Three former IDF chiefs of staff on Sunday told the country that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lied and that a prime minister cannot make a decision to purchase a submarine without the agreement of the defense minister and chief of staff.
On Saturday night, Netanyhau participated in an interview on Channel 12, during which he called such accusations a “blood libel." He claimed that he could make decisions on submarines without speaking to the defense minister or chief of staff of the IDF because there are intelligent secrets that a prime minister knows and these others do not.
Netanyahu was accused of purchasing submarines behind the backs of officials. Further but unrelated, Netanyahu is being accused of green-lighting the sale of German submarines to Egypt so as to cozy up to Germany for some sort of economic benefit through his shares in the supplier company Thyssenkrupp. Netanyahu denies most of these charges, but admitted during his interview that he did authorize the German sale to Egypt, and said it was for a reason that was "secret." Netanyahu added that the Egyptians would have bought subs anyway from another country. Netanyahu's lawyer in radio interviews on Sunday morning said that Greece and other countries in the Mediterranean also have submarines.
Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi called the submarines affair “very serious” during statements on Saturday night and Sunday morning, and warned that “allowing Egypt to buy advanced submarines hurts Israel’s advantage in the Mediterranean.”
Speaking to Israel Radio on Sunday, Ashkenazi, Blue and White’s No. 4 candidate, said that the dates of selling stocks and buying submarines that Netanyahu provided were incorrect and that “it stinks so bad, it can't even be disguised by Ayelet Shaked's perfume.”
Later, former chief of staff Moshe “Bogie" Ya’alon told Army Radio that when he was defense minister and asked Netanyahu if he had allowed the Germans to sell submarines to Egypt, he denied doing so.
“Last night, in an interview, full of panic, he admitted it for the first time,” Ya’alon said. “What secret? There is no secret. This only reinforces my claim that we must renew the investigation of the submarines,” he continued. “I said that the investigation might reach the point of treachery. I did not say that Netanyahu is a traitor, but perhaps that hat is burning on Likud’s head.”
Similarly, former IDF chief of staff and former defense minister Ehud Barak said in an interview with Army Radio that this is the most corrupt scandal in Israel’s history, and that Netanyahu put his own good over the defense of the country.
Netanyahu continued to deny the accusations on Sunday morning, even as he visited the United States for the annual AIPAC policy conference and a visit with US President Donald Trump.
Speaking to Galei Israel, a right-wing radio station, Netanyahu reiterated the legitimacy of his purchase of stock when he was in the opposition, which he said he reported to the appropriate authorities, and that he sold it after becoming prime minister, with permission from the State Comptroller’s Office.
"I'm not bankrupt like [Benny] Gantz, nor am I ignorant about economics like [Yair] Lapid,” said Netanyahu. “I invested in stocks because I know good potential, this has nothing to do with submarines.”
He added that there are state secrets that even the PM does not know about, noting that, for example, “I did not know that the Iranians broke into Gantz's phone. There are things that the head of the Mossad, for example, knows and the chief of staff does not.”
Netanyahu continued by mocking Gantz and Lapid, who he said accuse him of treason.
“Me?!” the prime minister said. “I risked my life for the country. It's unbearable and I'm going to sue them. They are entering a terrible low of blaming of treason a prime minister who devoted his life to the state.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.