Israel Police Chief: Findings Against Sara Netanyahu Didn't Need to Become Center of Public Debate

Roni Alsheich and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit release joint statement justifying why police announcement on the end of the investigation did not include recommendations for indictments.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich shaking hands with Netanyahu, December 3, 2015.
Haim Zach, GOP

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich felt it was inappropriate to release a public statement concerning the prime minister’s residence case, in which the police decided a evidentiary basis existed to indict a number of those involved, including Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

After a meeting between Alsheich and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit on Tuesday, they released a joint statement: “At the end of the investigation, the findings and police’s position were passed on to the attorney general, in writing, as is customary in all cases conducted by the police and passed on for the prosecution’s decision.”

After the police gave its opinion to Mendelblit, Alsheich thought it would be inappropriate from an ethical standpoint to release the police’s recommendations to the public and turn a professional and legal discussion into a public debate; so he decided to release only a limited statement to the media, which did not include all the details of the police’s position, says the joint statement.

Last month, the police released detailed statements concerning the recommendations to indict actor Moshe Ivgy, Ramat Gan Mayor Yisrael Zinger and many other suspects, including doctors and lawyers. The statement from Alsheich and Mendelblit did not explain why in those cases the police acted differently than in the case of Sara Netanyahu.

On Monday, Haaretz reported that Alsheich ignored a request by the attorney general to change the statement and include Sara Netanyahu’s name in the statement released Sunday by the police concerning to possible financial irregularities at the prime minister’s households.

Before its publication, Mendelblit asked Alsheich to change the wording of the statement. A source close to Mendelblit said he had demanded that the announcement conform to the standard version released at the end of every other police investigation. Mendelblit reportedly said the version presented to him didn’t include the names of those under investigation or the recommendation to indict – wording he found unacceptable. Despite his request, the statement was published unaltered. The police said Mendelblit was informed of this before the statement was released.

The joint statement addressed this, and they said: “The attempts to drive a wedge between the police commissioner and the attorney general are an attempt to attack the rule of law.” They said their working relationship “is direct and fruitful, and comes from mutual respect and full understanding of the division of responsibilities between the various bodies, such as the importance of close cooperation between them.”

Usually, the head of the police’s national investigations and intelligence branch is the one who writes the statement at the conclusion of an such an investigation, in coordination with the attorney general and the prosecution. This time, in an exceptional step, Alsheich chose to take an active part in wording the decision, and took the trouble to remove Sara Netanyahu’s name and the findings from the statement.