Israeli Police Chief, Feuding With Netanyahu Over Probes, Won't Have Term Extended

'An additional year' beyond the three years Roni Alsheich has served 'was never discussed with him,' government officials claim

Police chief Roni Alsheich at a Knesset discussion on the probes against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Olivier Fitoussi

Senior government officials yesterday shrugged off reports that Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich’s term wouldn’t be extended by another year, saying it had been agreed his term would last three years “and an additional year was never discussed with him.”

Alsheich has been in a public feud with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the police investigation of the latter’s corruption cases, and this evidently has reflected on Alsheich’s relationship with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, a Netanyahu loyalist.

According to these senior government officials, since Alsheich assumed the post in 2015, it was made clear he would serve for three years, and he agreed.

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“Any attempts by various elements to try and convey the message that there’s anyone considering extending the police commissioner’s term for a fourth year is making things up,” said one of the officials. They say that except for Yohanan Danino and David Cohen, since the 1990s all police commissioners have served only three years.

As a result, Alsheich, is expected to end his stint as commissioner in December. The cabinet has the option of extending his term by an additional year, but only if it is asked by the public security minister to do so.

People close to Alsheich said he wouldn’t ask for an extension. “He never sought this job for himself, on the contrary,” said one associate. “They asked him repeatedly to take it on. The commissioner sees this job as a mission for the Jewish people and upon assuming it he saw an opportunity to change the police force, which has indeed undergone a significant change in the past two-and-a-half years.”

Another associate said, “So long as they let him continue to work on behalf of the police he’ll be pleased, but if he has to compromise on the principles that guided him during all his years in the Shin Bet in exchange for another year, he won’t do it.”

Erdan tweeted Sunday that he isn’t dealing now with extending Alsheich’s term. “I don’t yet have a position on the matter. I have made it exceedingly clear that it’s not yet time to deal with it. Any other report on the matter has no connection to reality,” he wrote.

Observers point to Jerusalem Police Commander Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevi as a likely candidate to replace Alsheich.