Police Reportedly to Question Netanyahu Over Alleged Improprieties

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit allowing police to interview prime minister regarding accusations of exploiting his position for financial gain.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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PM Netanyahu and wife Sara
PM Netanyahu and wife SaraCredit: Olivier Fitoussi
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Half a year after Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced that an inquiry had been launched into alleged improprieties by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he is allowing the police to question him, Channel 10 reported Wednesday night. According to the report, the date for questioning will be set shortly.

Earlier this week Haaretz reported there had been developments in Netanyahu’s case. Over the past few weeks the police have been examining another case that raises criminal suspicions, in addition to the main case that has been occupying investigators.

In July Mendelblit announced that an inquiry was being launched “following information that was received regarding matters that, inter alia, involve the prime minister,” as the Justice Ministry press statement put it. The inquiry was sparked by substantial information that two intelligence sources gave to the police.

Mendelblit has since received additional explosive material about the prime minister that many top police officers and prosecutors believed warranted the immediate launching of a criminal investigation. Mendelblit, however, has been delaying the launch of a open investigation for several months now. He allowed the police to look into the information he’d received from intelligence sources over the past few months, but has been intervening in the detectives’ work and has maintained far tighter supervision of the inquiry than his predecessors did under similar circumstances.

Some significant portions of the information given by the two intelligence sources were either totally refuted or did not crystallize into criminal suspicions. For example, allegations of election fraud during the internal elections for Likud party chairman, or a story about a shadow election headquarters that had been hidden from the state comptroller, to which large sums of money had been funneled by tycoons who are Netanyahu’s friends.

However, information about the alleged systematic transfer of gifts and other benefits from tycoons to Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, were confirmed by some of the witnesses.

This week Haaretz learned that while Mendelblit chose to deal with the legal fates of Netanyahu and Ari Harow, the prime minister’s former chief of staff, he chose to disqualify himself from dealing with issues relating to Gil Sheffer, Harow’s predecessor. Sheffer was recently questioned as a possible suspect in the case of the management of the prime minister’s residence, the main suspicion in which is that Sara Netanyahu billed the state for private expenditures.

Sheffer, who has also been questioned over alleged sexual assault, has rejected all the accusations.

In response to Haaretz, the attorney general refused to say at this stage whether he will recuse himself of the whole affair surrounding the prime minister’s residence, due to suspicions against Sheffer.

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