Police: Timing of Yisrael Beiteinu Graft Probe Unrelated to Elections

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino responds to charge that Yisrael Beiteinu is intentionally being targeted during election season.

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Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino on Sunday addressed the corruption scandal embroiling Yisrael Beiteinu and party chairman Avigdor Lieberman's claims that the probe was timed to coincide with elections, saying, "We have an important job – to safeguard the character of the State of Israel."

Danino said that the disclosure of the investigation resulted from prior planning, "long before the elections were moved up." He said the evidence gathered in the probe, in which some 30 officials were detained for questioning, as well as a single consultation with the attorney general, enabled the police to go public with the case.

The commissioner urged those questioning the investigation to "ignore the background noise and focus on the probe in a professional manner, in order to reach the truth."

"We are a determined police force and we won't yield when it comes to public corruption," he said.

Danino said that former President Shimon Peres also said not to pay attention to the "noise" about the case. Peres also reportedly told him that he was surprised by the scope of the alleged corruption.

Meanwhile, Lieberman said Sunday that he expected State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan to explain why the investigation into the Yisrael Beiteinu corruption scandal was being widened during the election campaign period.

Lieberman emphasized that the prosecution had claimed in the case of the lawsuit filed by the caretaker of the Prime Minister's residence against the Netanyahu family that such matters must be handled with sensitivity so as not to influence the political system during the legal proceedings.

"This is particularly troublesome for me," Lieberman said before the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. "It is strange that when it comes to the matter of Yisrael Beiteinu, there is pressure to expand the investigation. It's a double standard. I know State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan. I respect and appreciate it, and expect to hear an explanation from him is this attitude being taken in this affair just because it involves Yisrael Beiteinu?"

Lieberman also hinted that the police was responsible for what he called leaks regarding the investigation. "This is a planned procedure, extremely well-timed. The investigation is completely coordinated with the election period Through the end of the campaign period, every day, there will be investigation and leaks. That will accompany us for the coming months."

The arrest of additional high-ranking public officials is likely, according to the sources close to the investigation. Several officials associated with Yisrael Beiteinu are currently in detention or out on bail.

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