Is the submarine affair about to sink?

Key witness Miki Ganor wants to retract testimony in Case 3000, even though prosecutors assert his actions won't change the case.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu climbs out after a visit inside the Rahav, the fifth submarine in the fleet, after it arrived in Haifa's port (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu climbs out after a visit inside the Rahav, the fifth submarine in the fleet, after it arrived in Haifa's port
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
No one really knows why the state’s key witness Miki Ganor seems intent on tearing up his partial-immunity deal relating to Case 3000 and whether there is any logic to his move, or whether it was an irrational, angry and self-destructive act.
What does it mean, why did he do it, and will it cause the whole “Submarines Affair” case to crash and burn?
There is speculation that he has been trying to get the police to make changes to his deal that would allow him to use up to tens of millions of shekels in funds overseas which he is having trouble accessing.
He cut his deal in July 2017 and agreed to both a year in prison and terms which impacted his financial fortune. Since then, he had to watch Shlomo Filber and Nir Hefetz – two former top aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – sign deals in which they got no jail time. Maybe that also made him feel that his deal was not good enough.
In this narrative, changing his story could be his latest attempt to up the stakes with the police to get what he wants.
But if so, multiple officials on both sides of the prosecutorial and defense aisle seem to view his actions as having no legal logic and as being purely self-destructive.
They say that though he is the state’s key witness, he cannot derail Case 3000, as that ship has sailed.
As they put it, since Ganor has already testified around 50 times and given extensive supporting evidence to his narrative up until now, the police do not even need him anymore to make the case.
They say he has zero leverage and that all of the leverage is gone once the immunity deal is signed, which locks in any evidence he provides as usable at trial.
Following this line of thinking, Ganor may have acted irrationally based on the incorrect premise that he could threaten the police’s case more than he actually can.
If so, officials say he could be in for a rude awakening in which all the evidence he provided already gets used at trial against him and the other suspects, while he goes to jail for several years instead of one year under the deal.
Of course, the other suspects will have additional ammunition now to attack the credibility of statements he made to police to incriminate them.
But from a legal perspective, they could have already attacked him before as a criminal who was lying and incriminating them to get a deal with police, so it is unclear whether Ganor’s latest change of heart give them something new.
At the end of the day, his credibility was always going to be determined by the level of detail he provided, additional confirming evidence and whether the suspects had any external objective evidence of their own to refute his accusations against them.
Another scenario is that the timing somehow relates to Netanyahu and new potential linkages that the prosecution is initially reviewing between the prime minister and Case 3000.
From a timing perspective, this makes sense and would be a sensational story.
But from what is coming out of Wednesday’s court hearing, there is no sign that Ganor’s change of heart will in any way impact the prime minister.
All of this means that while it is far too early to truly assess the impact that Ganor’s changing his story will have on the “Submarine Affair,” the effect may ultimately be minimal.
In November, the police recommended bribery charges against multiple former top Netanyahu aides and defense officials, but left the prime minister out of the case.
Other new evidence that may connect Netanyahu to the case is still in play, but Ganor’s dramatic bombshell may end up flickering out with little more than a whimper.