Netanyahu Somber Speech 311.
(photo credit: Moshe Milner / GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu denied ever authorizing the Ofer brothers' sale of an oil tanker to Iran or having any prior knowledge of the affair, speaking at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
The Prime Minister's Office did not authorize the contacts between the Ofers' company and Iran, Netanyahu said. "I found out about it from a journalist's question," adding that after checking with members of his staff authorized to deal with such matters, "there was no permission for any contact or delivery to Iran." "We have clear policies on this matter," he added.
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Earlier Monday, a senior official told Israel Radio that he government
will not approach the US on behalf of the Ofer brothers. The official
said that Israel cannot approach the US government because Jerusalem has
been the strongest voice calling for sanctions against Iran, with whom
the Ofer brothers are accused of doing business. He added that requests
were made to the government to act on behalf of the Ofers, but they were
summarily turned down.
Chairman of the Knesset Finance Committee
HaCohen added that, it's not permissible that on the one hand, the Ofer
brothers contribute to the welfare of the State of Israel, and on the
other hand, caused damage to it. Shama added that there's no chance that
the government can remain uninvolved in the affair. The Knesset
Economic Committee was scheduled to discuss the affair on Tuesday.
“A situation whereby a leading Israeli
company – or a company linked to it – is trading with Iran at a level that leads
the US State Department to sanction it, is a dangerous and a strategic black
hole in the Israeli effort to halt the Iranian nuclear project,” said Shama
HaCohen a day before.
On Sunday, quality-government watchdog, Ometz,
called both Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and State Comptroller Micha
Lindenstrauss to initiate comprehensive investigations into all
Israeli-based companies doing business with Iran – and into the government
authorities under whose watch such alleged transactions took place.