State Prosecutor Blocking Disciplinary Investigations Into Israeli Mossad Chief, Cabinet Secretary

Mossad head Yossi Cohen reportedly received improper gifts from billionaire close to Netanayhu

State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan last year.
State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan. Olivier Fitoussi

For seven months, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan has blocked the opening of a disciplinary investigation of Mossad head Yossi Cohen on suspicions he received improper gifts, Haaretz has learned.

Last December, Channel 10 reported that Australian billionaire James Packer, a friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had given Cohen, who was National Security Council head at the time, seven tickets worth thousands of shekels to an August 2015 concert in Israel by Mariah Carey,  Packer’s former fiancée.

In January, Haaretz revealed that Packer and billionaire American-Jewish businessman Arnon Milchan tried to recruit Cohen to be a partner in a global security firm called Blue Sky International.

Following these reports, Ayala Honigman, the deputy director of the Civil Service Commission’s disciplinary department, recommended a disciplinary investigation of Cohen for receiving improper gifts. Honigman first sought to have the information examined, and only afterward decide whether to question Cohen as a suspect. When Honigman’s decision was brought to Nitzan’s attention, he was furious and intervened. In the end, prosecutors merely took testimony from Cohen, who said the tickets had been given as a friendly gesture.

The State Prosecutor’s Office said, “We do not conduct our relationship with the Civil Service Commission’s disciplinary department through the newspaper, by which we neither confirm nor deny anything.” But Haaretz has confirmed that Honigman’s request has been effectively shelved.

The Civil Service Commission made a similar request to Nitzan concerning an investigation of Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman, after it was revealed that he had approached members of the Judicial Appointments Committee to help his wife, Nava, a magistrate’s court judge, in her bid for promotion to the district court. In the end, she did not receive the appointment.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with cabinet secretary Zahi Braverman
Emil Salman

No decision was ever made on that request either, meaning that two inquiries against senior officials who are close to Netanyahu have been frozen. The State Prosecutor's Office said about the Braverman case: “The person responsible for disciplinary matters in the Civil Service came to consult with the prosecution on this issue and the request will be examined.”