Netanyahu backs Hirsch appointment for police chief ahead of committee review

Hirsch has "great abilities to bring about changes and to contribute to strengthening the Israeli police and the rule of law in the state,”

Gal Hirsch (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Gal Hirsch
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threw his weight behind Gal Hirsch, the embattled police commissioner nominee, telling the cabinet on Monday that the former IDF brigadier-general is the right man at the right time for the job.
“Gal Hirsch is the right man at the right place,” he said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, pushed back a day because of his visit to Italy over the weekend. Netanyahu called Hirsch an upright, ethical officer with “great abilities to bring about changes and to contribute to strengthening the Israel Police and the rule of law in the state.
“I give my full backing to the public security minister [Gilad Erdan] and his efforts to appoint the best man for the job of police commis - sioner,” he said.
Netanyahu also told the cabinet that he met in the morning with Erdan, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and Transportation Minister Israel Katz to discuss the rise in attacks in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
“We will increase forces and protection for cars to provide security for Israel’s citizens,” he said, without elaborating.
On Monday, Hirsch lashed out at what he said is a campaign of leaks and defamation meant to sully his name, amid ongoing controversy about his nomination to lead the Israel Police.
In a Facebook post on Monday morning, Hirsch said that “the campaign of defamation and leaks to the press are harming my reputation. I resent this and am sensitive to it.”
Hirsch also said that he and those supporting him are not responsible for “any claims made against the police or the Investigations Branch and its commander, Asst.- Ch. [Meni] Yitzhaki,” adding that he doesn’t agree with the claims.
The would-be commissioner’s statement came the morning after his attorney, Dror Brotfeld, lashed out at police officials in a series of interviews, including one with Army Radio in which he said regarding Yitzhaki that “we must check what his interests are.”
The comment was in regard to the probe into the business interests of Hirsch’s security firm. Brotfeld asked why, if the police had information on Hirsch, they waited to submit it to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein only after his nomination. Weinstein said on Sunday that his office originally learned of the allegations against Hirsch from a foreign law enforcement agency, and not from the Israel Police.
Although the foreign source is believed to be the FBI, it could also be related to a corruption probe involving a former Georgian minister who did business with Hirsch’s security company.
On Sunday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he and Weinstein agreed to extend by 45 days the term of Acting Commissioner Asst.-Ch. Bentzi Sau to give more time to vet Hirsch.