Netanyahu Was Directly Involved in German Submarine Deal, Ya'alon Reportedly Tells Police

Former defense minister says Netanyahu directly and actively involved in canceling a Defense Ministry bid for vessels so they can be purchased from ThyssenKrupp.

PM Netanyahu, right, with Defense Minister Ya'alon, on Dec. 10, 2014.
AFP

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon testified to the police that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been directly and actively involved in canceling the Defense Ministry bid for the purchase of vessels so that they could be purchased from the German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp, Channel 2 news reported on Friday.

According to the report, Ya’alon also told the police that Netanyahu conducted talks with German government officials to purchase the vessels from ThyssenKrupp over the head of the Israeli defense establishment.

With regard to the so-called Case 2000, centering on suspicions that Netanyahu made a deal with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes to exchange favorable coverage of the prime minister for weakening Yedioth Ahronoth’s main competitor, Israel Hayom, Channel 2 reported that Mozes told police fraud investigators Friday that Netanyahu had behaved as if he were in essence the publisher of Israel Hayom, and conducted negotiations as if he owned that newspaper.

As for the submarine affair, now dubbed “Case 3000,” David Shimron, Netanyahu’s personal attorney and his cousin, is suspected of having represented ThyssenKrupp, which recently signed a memorandum of understandings for the construction of three new subs for the Israeli navy. Netanyahu at first pushed for the three subs to be added to Israel’s fleet of nine such vessels and in 2015, talks were held on the matter with the German conglomerate.

The prime minister also allegedly wanted to purchase two anti-submarine ships, but the deal was shelved in the face of vehement opposition by Ya’alon and the defense establishment. But after Ya’alon left office, the head of the National Security Council went to Germany together with representatives of Ya’alon’s successor, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, to negotiate over the subs. In October, the security cabinet approved the memorandum of understandings to replace three old subs by purchasing three new ones.

As for Case 1000, involving suspicions that Netanyahu and family members had received illicit benefits, Channel 10 News reported Friday that the police suspect that at least four other businessmen beside Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan had given gifts on a regular basis to the prime minister, his wife Sara and his son Yair. According to the report, the businessmen testified to the police that they had given jewelry to the family. Members of the Netanyahu family were asked about this matter by the police.

According to senior police officials, the prime minister’s bureau restricts each questioning session to three hours – which allows Netanyahu to speak to his lawyers and hampers the investigation, Channel 2 reported Friday.

Netanyahu’s third questioning by police took place Friday at the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem.

Channel 2 also reported that the lengthy and numerous interrogations of Mozes, the last two of which went on for 10 hours each, are complicating the picture for the prime minister. Mozes has described to investigators the negotiations he had with Netanyahu over the years, from 2009 to 2015, in which the two allegedly discussed softening the way Yedioth reported on Netanyahu in exchange for weakening Israel Hayom.

Netanyahu posted a harsh attack on the media on his Facebook page Friday, writing that media people and politicians were pressuring Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and law enforcement officials to indict him in “an attempt to stage a change of government in an undemocratic way.”