Ex-Israeli Police Chief: Hard to Imagine Netanyahu Won't Be Indicted

'I think we can all see the evidence,' former police commissioner Roni Alsheich says

Former police commissioner Roni Alsheich at an Institute for National Security Studies conference, January 27, 2019.
Ofer Vaknin

Former Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said Sunday he cannot imagine a situation in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not indicted for corruption.

"I think we can all see the evidence," Alsheich said at an Institute for National Security Studies conference. Alsheich ended his term in December, after he wasn't extended in what some say was a political decision to remove the commissioner when he didn't block the investigations against Netanyahu. 

Referring to the pressure placed on Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, Alsheich said that "the attorney general will act in accordance with the professional standards to which he is obligated." He added that "I have no doubt that at the end, the evidence will speak."

The former police commissioner was asked whether the police's credibility depends on convicting Netanyahu, to which he said: "In a way, yes. If it turns out that the facts uncovered by the police are not true, it will be a police failure. As long as the discussion is about legal interpretation, it will remain an issue for the court."

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Alsheich said in the conference that he never investigated Netanyahu himself and that he made sure he did not sit in the room nor watch the video online. He added, however, that he was responsible for the police and therefore read "every word in the testimony of those questioned under warning," adding: "Otherwise, you have no intuition when coming to the discussions."

Alsheich was also asked about his statement on Israeli television in February that private investigators tailed police officers handling Netanyahu's cases. "We knew who the investigators are and what they were doing," he said. "There were two options, either go for an undercover investigation or stop this thing. Our decision was in coordination with the attorney general to go public and say it wasn't normal."

At the conference, he was also asked whether the police set Netanyahu up and said: "Heaven forbid. These types of cases are accompanied by the prosecutor's office, the attorney general and the state prosecutor know every detail. In this kind of process there are no surprises. The independence of the police in this case is limited."

Asked about the pressure he was under during his tenure, Alsheich said he was also threatened, adding: "We all saw in the media what was said about me personally. I didn't take anything personally, I have respect for the political echelon and am under its authority."

Speaking about the leaks from the Netanyahu investigations, Alsheich said he was never behind the leaks. "Journalists know that the police don't leak this investigations, period. Whoever knows anything about investigations knows that those under investigation cannot speak among themselves, it's an obstruction of the investigation, so you give the information to the lawyer, who releases a statement, and the lawyers speak through the media. Many times the leak is meant to make the investigation look absurd. And something it's manipulated in order to say that the police is leaking."