Israel Police Likely to Close Fraud Investigation Into Opposition Leader Herzog

Channel 2 says police found no sound evidence for prosecuting Zionist Union leader for receiving illegal campaign donations; AG to make final decision in case.

Opposition leader and Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog, February 7, 2016.
Moti Milrod

The police are expected to recommend closing the investigation file against opposition leader MK Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union), Channel 2 News reported on Monday. According to the report, the police will announce that no evidentiary foundation was found for prosecuting Herzog on suspicion of receiving illegal campaign contributions, failing to report them or providing false information during the 2013 Labor Party primary.

The final decision about the investigation will be made by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit. Up until this point, there has been no joint discussion of the case by the Israel Police's Investigations and Intelligence Department and the Justice Ministry.

The investigation of Herzog began about four months ago in the National Fraud Investigation Unit. He was questioned twice under caution – meaning that the information he revealed could lead to an indictment – on suspicion of being involved in receiving a forbidden contribution from an interested party during the primary for leadership of the party. It was suspected that the money was used specifically to promote a campaign to sully the reputation of MK Shelly Yacimovich, who was running against Herzog.

In particular, the police investigated the suspicion that the CEO of a large nursing-services company had invested tens of thousands of shekels in the campaign, and that those sums did not appear in the party’s budget and were not reported. There was also an examination of whether that company received certain benefits from Herzog while he served as the social affairs minister, and contributed the money in exchange for these benefits.

Herzog rejected the accusations from the start and cooperated with his investigators.

For their part, the police claimed initially that the focus of their investigation was a specific incident and estimated that the whole process would not be long or complicated. They also noted that this inquiry was publicized at about the same time as the investigation of Shas minister Arye Dery, leading many people to believe that the cases were similar. Both investigations received extensive media coverage.