Israel's Attorney General Opts Against Probing Claims Netanyahu Shredded Files

An inquiry stated it was not possible to verify the petition against Netanyahu, which was lodged after Haaretz reported Israel's former PM shredded documents before vacating his office for Naftali Bennett last year

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, March 25, 2018.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, March 25, 2018.Credit: Abir Sultan / AFP and EPA
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Israel's Attorney General on Friday decided against launching an investigation into allegations that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shredded documents last year before vacating the office for Naftali Bennett, even though the possibility was not ruled out by the head of the inquiry.

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara this week rejected the petition by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, basing her decision on an inquiry conducted by the head of Israel State Archives, Ruti Abramovitch, who stated that it is not possible to confirm nor deny the shredding of documents.

"The State Archives does not maintain a record of materials that are created in government offices during their work," Abramovitch wrote, arguing that it is therefore not possible to establish reasonable suspicion on the matter.

In June 2021, Haaretz reported that documents stored in safes in the Prime Minister's Office were shredded in violation of the law shortly before Prime Minister Naftali Bennet took office. People who worked at the office under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had ordered the documents to be shredded.

In a recording obtained by Haaretz, Tzahi Braverman, Netanyahu's former Cabinet Secretary, is heard saying: “Before I left I even took some documents out of the safe, gave them to my deputy and told her to shred them right away. She shredded them, and that was the end of it.”

Braverman denied the confession, saying "It did not happen. Every action I took in the course of my duties was done lawfully, and any other insinuation is false."

Others who worked in the Prime Minister's Office have also previously indicated that documents were shredded before Netanyahu made way for Bennett.

Netanyahu's Likud also denied the report, calling it "fake news," and said that Braverman referred in the recording to his personal documents and copies of government papers, not to original documents, which are digitally archived anyway.

The safes containing the documents are located in the so-called “aquarium” – a sterile area where the prime minister and his most senior aides sit. They usually contain the schedules of senior officials, documents related to their work and other material. Some of the documents in the safes were transferred to the office’s archives, as mandated by law. Once filed, the Prime Minister and his senior aides are able to access them as needed.

The law states that when civil servants leave office, they must label all their documents and send them to the state archives. According to civil service regulations, “Every document created in the course of a civil servant’s work or received by him pursuant to work belongs to the state and must be kept in the office."

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