Israeli Would-be Police Chief Withdraws Candidacy Amid Scrutiny

Edri withdrew his nomination following a news report about his meeting with a polygraph examined before he took the test ■ Advisory committee opposed his nomination after he didn't divulge a meeting with a lawyer of a police corruption whistle-blower

Moshe Edri, at the official farewell ceremony of police commissioner Roni Alsheich, at the Beit Shemesh Police Academy.
Olivier Fitoussi

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s candidate for police commissioner, Moshe Edri, withdrew his candidacy on Wednesday, after a news report exposed he had met with his polygraph examiner before taking the test and days after a government advisory committee said it wouldn't approve his appointment.

The chief consideration noted by the senior appointments advisory committee against appointing Edri the country’s 19th police chief was a meeting Edri held with Pini Fischler, an attorney representing Rafi Rotem. Rotem is a corruption whistle-blower who had complained about Edri at the internal police investigations department, prior to their testimony before the committee. The meeting between Edri and the lawyer took place while the committee was discussing Edri’s candidacy for police chief. 

Rotem, a former senior Israel Tax Authority official, told the panel that Edri harassed him when he sought to testify against Ruth David, a former Tel Aviv district attorney who was later charged with corruption.

>> Say no to Edri for police chief | Haaretz Editorial

Two weeks ago, the advisory committee requested that in the name of fairness Edri take a polygraph test, as the other two leading candidates had done. Edri had not done so in his last position as Tel Aviv District police chief since these tests were not part of the procedure when he was in active service.

On Wednesday, the Walla News website revealed that Edri had met with a polygraph tester, Hava Yodfat, before undergoing the test. The meeting took place before the committee required the polygraph exam, and Edri claimed he set the meeting up in case the test would be required and in order to ensure there was no medical harm in such a test. 

Edri did not report the meeting to the committee, which ended up selecting Yodfat as his tester without knowing the two had met.

In a letter, Edri told Erdan that "there are many forces the entire purpose of which is to sabotage my candidacy, to slander and trample my good name and that of my family."

In the meantime, the cabinet approved the appointment of Southern District commander Maj. Gen. Motti Cohen as acting police chief for 45 days or until a final decision is reached on a commissioner. Cohen is now the leading candidate for the position.

Edri's nomination was shrouded in controversy. Several of the complaints against Edri came from former policemen who accused him of acting improperly, in violation of police regulations, back when he served as commander of the Yarkon subdistrict.

The conflict of interest complaints related to his ties with businessmen during his time as a district police chief and as director general of the Public Security Ministry. According to the complaints, he never reported these ties.

Edri has connections with members of the Yisrael Beitenu party, including senior figures convicted of blackmail. Last year Haaretz published transcripts of wiretaps done in connection with the Yisrael Beitenu affair in which a political adviser was heard saying: “That’s Chico [Edri], he meets with (former Deputy Interior Minister) Faina (Kirschenbaum) every Friday. They hug, talk and laugh. … He’s one of ours, he knows us all, and he knows exactly what the party is.”

Edri, 51, is a graduate of the Pirhei Aharon yeshiva high school in Haifa and lives with his family in the Kfar Oranim settlement. He’s a fitness, cooking and extreme sports enthusiast.