Israel Police Investigations Chief to Retire This Summer, Even Amid Netanyahu's Scandals

Haaretz has learned that Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan may consider replacing Yitzhaki with someone from outside the police.

Police commissioner Roni Alsheich (left) with head of investigations Meni Itzhaki in the Knesset in July, 2016.
Emil Salman

The head of the police investigations and intelligence division, Maj. Gen. Meni Yitzhaki, will be retiring this summer after completing four years in the post. 

Although he was planning to retire in May in any case, a police spokesman made a point of stressing that the man responsible for the investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was going to be leaving as part of a new round of senior appointments, even though no replacement was named. Haaretz has learned that Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan may consider replacing Yitzhaki with someone from outside the police.

The investigations involving Netanyahu will make the appointment of Yitzhaki’s replacement particularly explosive, since if the probes continue much longer they may end up in the lap of Yitzhaki’s as-yet-unknown successor. There will certainly be tension if the replacement comes from outside the police, even more so if he’s Erdan’s choice, given that Netanyahu heads his party. Yitzhaki would certainly prefer to complete the Netanyahu investigation on his watch, or at least get most of the work done before the materials are transferred to the prosecution, leaving his successor to merely fill in things if necessary.

This is not the first time that Yitzhaki’s retirement is making headlines. In July, Haaretz reported that Alsheich had previously tried to force Yitzhaki into early retirement, but former Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein prevented him from doing so, even though Alsheich proposed other candidates for the post. At the time, Weinstein told the police chief that Yitzhaki must remain in his post at least three years, and any attempt to interrupt his tenure would interfere with the police’s work, particularly on sensitive long-term investigations. 

From the talk surrounding Yitzhaki’s retirement, it seems that Alsheich plans to make many more far-reaching changes than merely naming a replacement. Apparently the responsibilities held by Yitzhaki and his predecessors are going to undergo substantial adjustments, with much of the authority held by Yitzhaki to be assumed by Alsheich himself. This includes the authority to launch investigations and set priorities for investigations by the national fraud squad and the economic crimes unit. 

Alsheich plans not only to assume responsibility for making operative decisions about investigations, but also to be the one who sets the boundaries of every investigation. Today, for example, Alsheich is not overly involved in the Netanyahu investigations, because the head of Lahav 433, Maj. Gen. Roni Ritman, and Yitzhaki, are responsible for the work of the national fraud squad.