Arye Dery Named as One of Israeli Politicians Suspected of Possible Criminal Wrongdoing

In the early 1990s, Dery was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison for taking bribes while serving in public roles, among them interior minister.

Arye Dery in the Knesset.
Olivier Fitoussi

Interior Minister Arye Dery has been named as one of the two Israeli politicians being investigated of possible suspected criminal behavior in two unrelated cases by Israel Police’s fraud squad, it was cleared for publication Tuesday evening.

The decision to investigate Dery, who was convicted and jailed for corruption offences during his previous stint as interior minister in the 1990s, and now enjoys the immunity of a lawmaker, was granted by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. At this stage the investigation is not criminal.

Arye Dery addressed the allegations at a press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday, saying that he was pleased with the attorney general's conduct, and asked that the investigation act as quickly as possible.

Dery added that he and all those related to him are prepared to meet, assist and give investigators whatever they need, requesting that they speed up the investigation process. Dery added that he is continuing his work as interior minister, and the reports of his alleged wrongdoing "totally surprised me."

Earlier, Dery tweeted that he demanded the gag order lifted , adding that he is available for all elements of the investigation and will answer any questions offered.

Amit Segal, a reporter for Channel 2 television, reported on one of those cases last night. Haaretz has obtained information about the second case, which involves suspicions against a key player in Israel’s political system. 

Though both cases have been under investigation for the last few months, both are still at a relatively early stage, so it’s hard to predict whether they are liable to end in indictments. So far, neither of the politicians have been questioned under caution.

The case reported by Channel 2 last night involves suspicions of serious corruption. That investigation is more advanced than the second probe, which, Haaretz has learned, involves suspicions that interested parties financed some of the suspect’s political activity.

Both investigations began after the Knesset elections in March 2015.

In the early 1990s, Dery was suspended from his role as interior minister following allegations that took bribes while serving in public roles. He was then convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, and was released in July 2002 after serving two-thirds of his sentence.

Upon Dery's return to politics following the last elections, sharp criticism was drawn regarding Netanyahu's intention to reappoint Dery to the very same office he was suspended from, however, the High Court rejected a petition against his Dery’s appointment and was eventually named interior minister.