Ex-police Chief: I Didn't Think Netanyahu Would Still Be Prime Minister When His Trial Began

Roni Alsheich, who headed police during investigations into Netanyahu cases, says cabinet minister's attack on attorney general 'unbecoming of a democratic country'

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Haaretz
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Police chief Roni Alsheich at a ceremony in Kfar Saba, November 21, 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Police chief Roni Alsheich at a ceremony in Kfar Saba, November 21, 2017.Credit: Gil Eliahu
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Haaretz

Former Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich, who headed the force during the investigation into alleged corruption by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in remarks broadcast Saturday by Channel 12 News that he would not have believed that Netanyahu’s trial would begin while he was still prime minister. The situation, Alsheich said, is “an indictment of all those surrounding him.”

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Bibi swears in his colossal coalition and readies for a courtroom showdown Credit: Haaretz

The trial in Jerusalem District Court is scheduled to begin on Sunday, with the prime minister in attendance. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing in the three separate cases.

Regarding comments by David Amsalem, a cabinet minister and member of Netanyahu’s Likud party who recently characterized Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit as “an alleged criminal,” Alsheich said the remarks were “designed to upset the balance of the entire system. This is Mafioso-like behavior that is unbecoming of a democratic country.” It was Mendelblit who made the decision to indict Netanyahu.

Alsheich predicted that the three-judge panel in the case could also come under attack. “What is no less shocking is the silence of most of the politicians. If the leadership remains silent following such attacks, it will very quickly be the turn of the panel of judges hearing the Netanyahu case,” the former police chief said.

Alsheich also commented on the High Court of Justice’s decision earlier this month to deny a petition challenging the legality of Netanyahu’s forming a new coalition government while under indictment. The set of rulings by the court reflect the dry letter of the law, “but if the country were in a different situation, it’s possible that the High Court would have been inclined to a broader and more value-based interpretation” of the law, he said.

Senior Likud officials bitterly criticized the law enforcement system on Saturday evening in advance of the start of the trial on Sunday, when the indictment against the prime minister, charging him with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, will be read.

When Public Security Minister Amir Ohana of Likud was asked by Channel 12 News if he believed the trial was rigged, he said: “I don’t know. I hope not,” and added: “Likud voters don’t believe the thesis that the prosecution has created. We believe that a great injustice has been done to the right-wing camp. The one standing trial tomorrow is the right-wing camp. They understood that there was no other way to move Netanyahu aside.”