The attorney general and state prosecutor were briefed in real time by the police commissioner about the attempts to gather information about senior officers involved in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cases, police sources said Thursday.
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said earlier this week on “Uvda” (“Fact”), Channel 2’s current affairs program, that powerful figures had gathered information about police investigating Netayahu’s actions. After the broadcast Netanyahu lashed out against Alsheich, calling his claims “delusional” and “deceitful,” saying they must be investigated immediately.
The sources told Haaretz that Alsheich told Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and State Prosecutor Shay Nitzan about a year ago that private investigators had been checking up on senior police officers in the investigations division. However, the private detectives’ work was stopped in its early stages and the police decided not to investigate the issue.
The private investigators checked information about alleged construction offenses in the home of Maj. Gen. Meni Yitzhaki, head of police investigations and intelligence, the sources said. The Jerusalem municipality had looked into the allegations and did not find grounds to take steps against him, the sources said. The Justice Ministry would not respond on the matter.
Last month Gidi Weitz wrote in Haaretz that security personnel had combed the home of a prosecution attorney dealing with politicians’ corruption cases, following suspicions that an attempt was made to bug her conversations or obtain information on sensitive probes she was involved in. The attorney is handling the cases of Netanyahu, ministers Arye Dery and Haim Katz and former MK David Bitan (Likud).
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A few days before the search she was notified by her residential community’s management that people had been asking questions about her.
Late Thursday afternoon Netanyahu called for an immediate investigation of Alsheich’s allegations and insisted he, Netanyahu, had made no attack on the police.
“There is no personal attack here, not on the police commissioner and not on anyone else,” the prime minister wrote in Facebook. “The real question is the integrity of the investigation, and the only way to clarify this is through an objective, independent and quick investigation.”
On Wednesday night Netanyahu cast aspersions on Alsheich’s integrity and his ability to make objective decisions in these cases, following Alsheich’s “Uvda” interview. “A great shadow has fallen tonight on police investigations and on their recommendations in the matter of Prime Minister Netanyahu,” said Netanyahu. “Any decent person would ask himself how people who say such delusional things about the prime minister can objectively investigate him and give impartial recommendations.”
The head of the ruling Knesset coalition, MK David Amsalem (Likud), called Alsheich “smug” and “full of himself” on Thursday, following Alsheich’s comments that powerful figures had collected material about police investigators working on the Netanyahu files. “The target has been marked,” said Amsalem.
His remarks come days before Israeli police are expected to issue their recommendation on whether the prime minister should be charged in connection with two corruption investigations.
“This is an attempted coup by the police,” Amsalem claimed in an interview with Army Radio. “They see the prime minister as a personal enemy and are trying to topple him.” He said he couldn’t recall a police commissioner or army chief of staff giving such an interview. “It shocked me. I thought he was running in some primaries,” said Amsalem.
In reaction, Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay said, “The prime minister is behaving like a common criminal, with an unprecedented attack on the commissioner and the entire police force. Netanyahu is humiliating us, the citizens of Israel. The assault on the commissioner is illegitimate. Instead of asking for a speedy end to the investigation, Netanyahu elects to attack the police commissioner, thereby dismantling any faith citizens have in our legal system.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said, “Netanyahu’s attack on the commissioner before the recommendations are published is an act of desperation by someone under investigation, who has chosen to exploit his elevated position to threaten the rule of law and impugn the police, whose job is to protect us.”
Meretz leader Zehava Galon said that if the police recommend indicting Netanyahu, he would have to recuse himself until the attorney general decides whether to prosecute him. Galon said that if he doesn’t do so, she would suggest to opposition members to boycott all Knesset sessions and “not allow Netanyahu to defile public life.”