Netanyahu says report proved his case was made up to topple him

Knesset speaker complains to comptroller • Coalition chairman: Close case because cop slept with ‘Yediot’ co-owner

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 30, 2020.  (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 30, 2020.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Tuesday for an independent investigation of the police who probed him in Case 2000, the “newspaper collusion affair,” after reports revealed a conflict of interest in the case that was reportedly covered up.
“It was revealed that this was a political investigation, which was infected from the first moment,” Netanyahu said in a speech in Beit Shemesh. “A case was manufactured in order to topple a sitting prime minister. Top figures in the police and prosecution prevented, interfered with and buried internal probes and covered up for each other, all for political reasons.”
Netanyahu said emails revealed in the report proved that then-state prosecutor Shai Nitzan and his deputy Shlomo Lemberger took steps to prevent wrongdoing by police from being probed internally, because they wanted to incriminate him.
“This is not an investigation but a corrupt, political conspiracy to topple the prime minister,” Netanyahu said. “What is needed now is an independent probe – a real investigation to reveal the truth – because that is the only way to restore the public’s faith in the rule of law and guarantee our democracy.”
The story, broken by Channel 12 political analyst Amit Segal, revealed that one of the police investigators involved in the case, Avi Rutenberg, had a romantic relationship with Judy Nir-Mozes, co-owner of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper. Her brother, Arnon Mozes, is a central figure in the case.
Rutenberg even reportedly questioned Nir-Mozes without revealing that they were romantically involved. When his superiors were made aware of the relationship, he faced no consequences – and they ensured that Rutenberg would not face an internal police probe.
Only when Rutenberg’s wife complained to the police was the case forwarded to the police division that probes its own officers. The internal probe said a clear conflict of interest was evident.
The report revealed a letter from Lemberger that rejected conducting a full investigation of Rutenberg and said that Nitzan had agreed. Lemberger wrote that the internal police probe should not happen for “reasons that are understood,” referring to Netanyahu’s attempts to cast doubt on the cases against him.
Rutenberg responded to the report by saying that there was no connection between his relationship with Nir-Mozes and the investigation against Netanyahu, which he wrote was run with no agenda. He denied involvement in Case 2000, calling the report “fake news.”
But Segal revealed a new document on Tuesday that was filed in Netanyahu’s trial, which proved that Rutenberg had in fact questioned state’s witness Ari Harow in Case 2000.
Knesset speaker Yariv Levin called upon State Comptroller Matityahu Englman on Tuesday to probe what happened with Rutenberg. The comptroller was given a thick file on the incident by the police.
Coalition chairman Miki Zohar wrote Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, asking him to close Case 2000, cancel Netanyahu’s indictment and probe all those involved. Zohar wrote that in his view, the report proves that Case 2000 was delusional, ridiculous and run in a corrupt manner.
“They wanted a probe of the prime minister at any price,” Levin complained.
But Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn (Blue and White) defended the police and the prosecution.
“Delusional conspiracy theories of the making up of criminal cases are ridiculous and join other [incidents of] incitement calling for investigating judges, investigators and the attorney-general,” Nissenkorn said. “Such calls are intended to destroy the legal system – and they will not succeed.”