Why Netanyahu still probably won't get indicted in Case 3000 - analysis

The problem for making Netanyahu a suspect both in the past and even now is the difference between the law and "what everyone knows" is common sense.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu climbs out of the 'Rahav,' the fifth submarine in the navy's fleet, in 2017 (photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu climbs out of the 'Rahav,' the fifth submarine in the navy's fleet, in 2017
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
On Friday, Yediot Ahronot published an extended disclosure of affidavits filed by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel in Case 3000, the Submarines Affair, leading up to its petition on Thursday before the High Court of Justice to try to compel Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to probe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a suspect.
Though the report’s revelations, many of which the NGO revealed in an event in mid-June, strengthen some of the serious questions about why Netanyahu was not indicted, they are likely to run into the same obstacles that have blocked an indictment to date.
Although Netanyahu was questioned in Case 3000 – a scheme of buying allegedly unneeded submarines and other ships to fraudulently skim profits off the top of the hundreds of millions of shekels price tag per ship – he was only questioned as a fact witness and never in full detail as a suspect.
Many of the same defense establishment officials the Yediot report quoted, anonymously, had already made it clear that they believed Netanyahu was behind or knew what his top associates were up to: lawyer/confidante/cousin David Shimron, former chief of staff David Sharan and former deputy national security adviser Avriel Bar-Yosef, who are all expected to be indicted by Mandelblit following their pre-indictment hearings.
The problem for making Netanyahu a suspect both in the past and even now is the difference between the law and “what everyone knows” is common sense.
Common sense would dictate that it would be unlikely that these top aides would successfully conceal their alleged scheme from Netanyahu.
But the law does not work only on common sense: It requires proof.
There is no proof that Netanyahu knew about the scheme, only that he pushed for buying the ships under suspicious circumstances.
Putting out more of the grainy details about the suspicious circumstances is fascinating journalism, but it doesn’t translate into proof in a court of law.

THE SAME reason that Netanyahu is in serious jeopardy in Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair, is the reason why even the new report and petition will likely fail.
Case 4000 has two close Netanyahu aides who turned state’s witness against him and accused him of bribery.
No one in Case 3000 has turned on Netanyahu despite intense pressure and facing indictment.
Back when he seemed untouchable, one might say that the three close Netanyahu aides were protecting him, thinking he could save them or provide benefits to them at the end of the ordeal.
But with his trial quickly approaching in January, it appears more likely they would cut a deal against him if they could truthfully accuse him of being in on the scheme.
Alternatively, these three are simply more loyal to Netanyahu than the two state’s witnesses in Case 4000.
The other problem is former national security advisers Yaakov Amidror and Jacob Nagel.
They have stalwartly defended purchasing the submarines in question and said the defense establishment is sometimes wrong about strategic issues. They point out that former defense minister Amir Peretz overrode strenuous objections to purchasing the Iron Dome system.
And Amidror and Nagel have nothing to gain from defending Netanyahu on this.
One can disagree with them, but given their defense bona fides, if they say the submarines were needed, then there is no possible way to go after Netanyahu for any crimes, absent even more black-and-white damning evidence of something like cash in envelopes being secretly exchanged.
There is an ongoing probe of Netanyahu for potential stock fraud, which could be indirectly connected to Case 3000. But the golden evidence to make the connection strong enough is missing from the petition and the Yediot report.
Finally, Mandelblit is the man who indicted Netanyahu in three out of four cases, one of them for bribery.
The chances that the High Court will overrule him and reopen the one case he closed against Netanyahu are practically zero.
So while the sensational secret faxes and phone calls from Netanyahu’s aides to the Defense Ministry were exciting reading, they probably will not change the legal picture.