Shalom Shlomo, a candidate to become Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s cabinet secretary, consulted Michael Ganor, the main suspect in the so-called submarine affair that has plagued former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Shlomo also introduced Ganor to Netanyahu’s personal attorney and cousin, David Shimron.
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Shimron went on to represent Ganor, the Israeli representative of the Germany company ThyssenKrupp; their relationship would become key in the conglomerate’s sale of submarines and missile ships to Israel. Ganor is suspected of obstructing an investigation, tax offenses and bribery.
At the center of the affair, also known as Case 3000, are two agreements between Israel and a ThyssenKrupp unit five years ago: to buy three submarines for 1.5 billion euros, and to purchase missile ships for 430 million euros to protect Israel’s offshore natural gas rigs.
Critics have said Israel was buying more submarines than necessary. Netanyahu, however, has only been charged in corruption cases unrelated to this one.
In last winter’s election campaign, Shlomo assisted Bennett and joined the mediation efforts between Bennett’s Yamina and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid; the two parties form the heart of the new coalition government. Before consulting Bennett and Lapid, Shlomo consulted Netanyahu when he was prime minister.
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In a 2019 profile in the TheMarker, Haaretz’s business section, Shlomo was described as someone who “mixes with big money and government circles.” It emerged during the case, partly from the details of police interrogations, that Shlomo received thousands of euros from Ganor, and that documents and emails proved that Ganor had employed Shlomo as a consultant.
This includes a document naming former minister Eliezer "Moodi" Sandberg, who has been charged with taking bribes from Ganor. Shlomo has also been summoned to testify in the submarine case.
“I asked Shalom Shlomo, whom I knew through Moodi Sandberg, to help me forge ties in the Prime Minister’s Office,” Ganor said, explaining why payments to Shlomo were made.
Ganor referred to “the aquarium” – the part of the Prime Minister’s Office where the prime minister and his top aides sit.
“Shlomo recommended David Shimron and introduced us .... In one of our conversations I complained that I was looking for a contact in the aquarium, to understand and feel where things stood .... [Shlomo] told me of [Shimron’s] ties with the prime minister and said he was discreet and could help me.”
Shlomo’s relationship with Bennett goes back a long way. After the 2013 election, Bennett was appointed economy minister in Netanyahu’s third government. He wanted Shlomo to be the ministry’s director general, but ultimately appointed him his chief of staff.
In those days, Ganor was working on a project to set up an amonia plant in Israel, in which ThyssenKrupp would be a partner. As was his custom, Ganor hoped to receive help from top political leaders.
In April 2013, he sent a ThyssenKrupp executive an email mentioning Bennett’s new role as economy minister. Ganor said that Shlomo was receiving a key job at the ministry, so he suggested that the executive put off a visit to Israel to May or June.
Ganor told police investigators that he hoped that Shlomo’s appointment would help him down the road, but that this was not what he meant in the email.
When Ganor was asked about when he was closest with Shlomo and in what context, he admitted that he was interested in the “sixth submarine” that Israel would acquire, and that he kept searching for information, ties and influence.
Summing up his relationship with Shlomo, Ganor said: “He didn’t receive money for a specific service, but in general, to keep him around. His biggest contribution I think was his introducing me to Shimron. That’s the greatest contribution, or the greatest damage, in retrospect.”