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Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi resigned Sunday in the wake of damning findings by the Zeiler Commission, which investigated alleged police misconduct during a probe of a 1999 murder.

Shortly thereafter, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter held a press conference in Jerusaelm in which he announced his intention to appoint Prisons Service Commissioner Ya'akov Ganot as Karadi's replacement.

Dichter said he had reached the conclusion that the entire senior police command must be replaced, and therefore announced his decision to remove Police Deputy Commissioner Benny Kaniak, "despite the fact that he was not mentioned in the [commission's report]."

According to Dichter, the police representative in the United States, Mickey Levy, will replace Kaniak as police deputy commissioner. Dichter said he has offered Kaniak the position of Prisons Service commissioner.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday telephoned Karadi and expressed his deep appreciation for his service in the ranks of the Israel Police, a statement by the Prime Minister?s Media Adviser said.

According to the statement, the Prime Minister said that Israel?s citizens owe the Commissioner their gratitude for his years of service and achievements to society.

Olmert also commended Dichter?s announcement regarding the appointment of Ganot as the next Commissioner, and of Levy as the next Deputy Commissioner.

The Prime Minister expressed his confidence that they will beable to lead the Israel Police to achievements in upholding the rule of law, public order and personal security.

According to the statement, Olmert noted thatLevy?s appointment as Deputy Commissioner was Public Security Minister Dichter?s decision and was made without any prior consultation with him.

Karadi said the government would determine the exact date on which he will hand over his position.

"This is a difficult hour for me and for the police," Karadi told a press conference in Jerusalem. "The Israel Police is in need of revolution and reform."

"He who wants to lead a revolution in the national priorities must double the [police] budget, dramatically increase police salaries, and integrate within the police the world's best technologies," he added.

According to Dichter, the commissions report "points to shortcomings in the organizational culture and police self-discipline."

"When I took over as public security minister, I determined the policy objectives, first and foremost of which was the instruction to increase security and the feeling of security among Israel's citizens," added Dichter. "The issue of the organizational culture was a cornerstone."

Dichter said the decision to replace Karadi was made for all intents and purposes prior to the Zeiler Commission issuing its report.

"During the past few months, and alongside the commission's work, I tried to set in motion organizational and structural changes in the police's work," said Dichter. "Things were not carried out in accordance with the policy I had set out. I reached the conclusion that in order to properly carry out the policy, and in order to improve the functioning of 28,000 police, I have to appoint a new senior command."

"Out of respect and appreciation for the commission, I decided to wait until the commission issued its report, but at the same time I prepared myself and the police for the day after, and that day has come," added Dichter.

Dichter said he personally informed Karadi several weeks ago that he has no intention of extending his term beyond August. Dichter said this was done with the knowledge of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

"I am certain and confident that Karadi will do everything, and I mean everything, in order to transfer the position to his replacement in a manner that befits him and his character," added Dichter. "My great admiration for Karadi has not decreased. His efforts to lead police forward were genuine and emanated from a true sense of purpose."

"Even on this difficult day, perhaps especially on this difficult day, it is appropriate to emphasize that thousands of police officers are standing guard," said Dichter.

MK Aryeh Eldad: Another one of Sharon's corrupt appointments is going home

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said following Karadi's resignation that "another one of the Sharon farm's corrupt appointments is going home - Israel is afflicted with AIDS of corruption. Its immune system is rotten. The prime minister, who must fight corruption, is tainted himself, and there is no option save going to elections."

Minister Eitan Cabel (Labor) said Public Security Minister Avi Dichter has a rare opportunity to revolutionize the police. According to Cabel, the committee's report should be used to regain the public's trust in the system.

MK Ami Ayalon (Labor) said that the nomination of the next police commissioner should be similar to the nomination of the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff - in full consultation with the government and the Knesset Interior Committee.

MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said that "in resigning, Karadi acted with courage as well as wisdom. He had no choice but to resign."

"Karadi did the right thing by understanding that he couldn't continue in his position. It would be good if other officers tainted by the report would follow in his footsteps," said MK Danny Yatom (Labor).

MK Zevulon Orlev (National Religious Party), chairman of the Knesset State Control Committee, said that the committee will convene in the next few days to discuss the Zeiler Commission's report.

Zeiler Commission recommends curtailing Karadi's termThe panel's chairman, retired judge Vardi Zeiler, recommended in his report that Karadi's term as police commissioner be curtailed, rather than allowing his contract to expire in August.

The commission investigated the handling of the probe into the murder by a policeman of suspected crime boss Pinhas Buhbut, while he was under guard in hospital. The report found deficiencies in the performance of several senior police officers, including Karadi.

The police chief was surprised to learn of the commission's findings. Information relayed to him regarding the probe over recent days had suggested that there would be no recommendation for him to step down. Until the findings were released, Karadi had hoped his term would even have been extended.

Terminating Karadi's appointment would "set a clear standard - that someone who behaves like Karadi will be unable to complete his term as police commissioner," said Zeiler.

Zeiler urged Dichter to select a date to dismiss Karadi "taking into consideration the relatively short period until the end of his appointment."

Despite Zeiler's recommendation, the other members of the committee, attorney Nurit Shnit and former police major general Uzi Berger, said it would be sufficient to recommend that Karadi's term is not extended, rather than bringing it to a premature end.

Dichter received the report of the committee's findings just before noon Sunday.

The committee also recommended the immediate dismissal of Police Commander Yoram Levy and Superintendent Ruby Gilboa for their roles in the "battery affair."

Gilboa is suspected of accepting hundreds of thousands of shekels from an insurance investigator to transfer to murder suspect Oded Parinyan, in exchange for the return of thousands of military-issue batteries stolen from the Israel Defense Forces.

The committee ruled that Karadi, who headed the Israel Police Southern District at the time, was aware of the affair when it occurred.

The panel said, however, that Karadi "did not investigate its essence and did not concern himself with supervising or investigating this irregular expose."

On the appointment of Levy as commander of the Southern District Central Unit, despite suspicions of criminal connections between him and the criminal Parinyan family, the panel ruled that Karadi "ignored the basic rule of judgement that must be implemented in police appointment, ignored the danger of bringing someone suspected of inappropriate criminal connections into a central junction of police activities, and ignored the problematic behavior of Yoram Levy during a polygraph test."

The retired justice said that the police ignored the general rules designed "to prevent the transfer of people from one side of the barricade to the other."

Zeiler told reporters during a press conference Sunday that Yoram Levy met with criminals in his home over the course of years, "under family and social circumstances," in order to gather information in a manner inappropriate for his position.

He said that Levy had continued with the meetings even after instructed by Karadi to terminate them.

The panel also recommended opening criminal proceedings against Major General Aharon Zargarov over his decision to close the Buhbut case. Sargarov had decided to close the case because the "criminal was unknown," though in actuality, the criminal was known.

Dichter previously made but then retracted a proposal that former Labor prime ministerial candidate Amram Mitzna be named as the next police commissioner.

The report's main message is that the murder of Pinhas Buhbut in Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer was far more than just another murder: The fact that the murderer was a policeman in uniform, acting at the behest of an alleged crime family, made it unique.

As a result, the numerous senior police officers and prosecutors who failed to make the case a high priority were guilty of flawed judgment and serious professional lapses.

The 250-page report was made public at 11:30 A.M. Sunday, which is also when it was handed over to attorneys representing the 13 officials who were earlier warned that the commission's findings could harm them.

The Knesset Interior Committee plans to discuss the report Monday. Dichter and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz have been asked to attend.

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