Justice Ministry Decides Against Investigating Israel's Submarine Scandal

Ministry says evidence does not warrant a police probe, but that it is still looking into the conduct of Netanyahu and his personal lawyer.

The German-made INS Rahav, the fifth Israeli Navy submarine, arrives in Haifa.
AFP

The Justice Ministry said on Sunday it sees no reason to pursue a police investigation into media reports of a so-called submarine purchase scandal.

Last week, Channel 10 reported a possible conflict of interests in the deal,in that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal attorney, David Shimron, also represents an Israeli businessman employed by the German shipyard building the submarines. Later, Haaretz reported that Shimron also was appointed to the board of Miki Ganor's firm.

Netanyahu on Sunday said he acted to promptly to advance the submarine deal because he wanted to make sure that it was agreed upon while German Chancellor Angela Merkel, considered a friend of Israel, is still in office.

Avichai Mendelblit (right) consults with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a weekly cabinet meeting, September 2015.
Ohad Zwigenberg (Pool)

IN DEPTH: The Israeli submarine scandal: What we know

At a meeting on Sunday Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and other top officials decided that the evidence collected at this point does not point to any suspicion of criminal activity regarding a deal to buy advanced submarines and other vessels from Germany, and therefore the police should not investigate the matter.

However, the ministry said that affair is still being looked into. Among other things being examined is a conflict of interest agreement Netanyahu signed since taking office.

"Things are being examined, both factually and legally, and only after this examination it will be decided how to address [the affair]," the ministry said in a statement.

Channel 2 television reported that the results of a private polygraph test ordered by Shimron showed he had never discussed his involvement in the submarine deal with Netanyahu, nor did he inform the prime minister before last week that Ganor was one of his clients.

Two former defense ministers under Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya'alon, have called for an investigation. Netanyahu had pushed to expand the submarine deal with Germany, but Ya'alon said he opposed it.

Israel's acting head of the National Security Council, Jacob Nagal, said on Saturday that Ya'alon may not have known about parts of the latest deal to buy submarines from Germany.