After Netanyahu Slams Top Cop, Right-hand Man Says Police Trying to Stage Coup

Coalition whip David Amsalem calls the police chief 'smug and full of himself' after an interview where he discussed ongoing graft probes and confirmed that Netanyahu said he would one day head the Shin Bet

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich, November 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich, November 2017.Credit: Gil Eliahu

The head of the government coalition, MK David Amsalem (Likud), called Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich "smug" following Alsheikh's comments that powerful forces had collected material about police investigators working on the Netanyahu files. “The target has been marked,” said Amsalem, in comments to Uvda, Channel 2’s current affairs program. His remarks come days before Israeli police are expected to issue their recommendation whether the prime minister should be charged in relation to two ongoing corruption investigations into the prime minister.

“This is an attempted coup by the police. They see the Prime Minister as a personal enemy and are trying to topple him.”

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In an interview on Army Radio, Amsalem described Alsheich as “full of himself,” adding that he can’t remember a police commissioner or chief of staff ever giving such an interview. “It shocked me. I thought he was running in some primaries,” said Amsalem.

Amsalem was referring to an interview Alsheich gave to Ilana Dayan, in which he said: “There is pressure on people working on these investigations, there are people circling around these investigators, sniffing around in order to collect information about these officers.” He said that “questions were being asked about these investigators, including talking to their neighbors, and we know that the people doing this are professionals,” said Alsheich. When asked if he was referring to people dealing with the Netanyahu files, Alsheich affirmed this. He also confirmed that Netanyahu had promised him that if he remained prime minister he would see to it that Alsheich became the chief of the Shin Bet.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh and MK David Amsalem (Likud) on November 31, 2017. Credit: Emil salman

Late Thursday afternoon in a Hebrew-language Facebook post, the prime minister called for an immediate investigation of Alsheich's allegations and insisted that there has been 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 part. "The real question is the integrity of the investigation, and the only way to clarify this is through an objective, independent and quick investigation."

Last night Netanyahu cast aspersions on the integrity of Commissioner Alsheich and on his ability to make 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 prime minister called for an investigation of Alsheich’s comments: “His insinuations were so grave that an immediate and objective investigation is required into his allegation that the prime minister sent out private investigators. When it turns out that there is no such link, the necessary conclusions must be drawn regarding the handling of this investigation and the recommendations being prepared against the prime minister.”

Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay responded to Netanyahu’s words, saying that “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 that “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 in order to threaten the rule of law and to 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. She 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,” as she put it.

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