Israeli Police Chief Says Netanyahu, Jerusalem Police Chief Were in Cahoots

Sources told Haaretz that Roni Alsheich believes Netanyahu and Jerusalem police commander conducted talks through a third party. Netanyahu's office denies the allegations

Israeli police commissioner Roni Alsheikh talking to reporters in Ashkelon on May 15, 2018.
\ Ilan Assayag

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich has told associates that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Jerusalem district police commander have covert ties behind his back, sources told Haaretz.

According to the sources, Alsheich believes that Netanyahu and police Maj. Gen. Yoram Halevy conducted talks through a third party and in some cases also met without that person’s knowledge.

Senior police commanders consider Halevy a respected and experienced officer, making him the most likely person to replace Alsheich, who is stepping down soon.

For its part, the Prime Minister’s Office says that “this is a total and tendentious lie.” Halevy has also denied the claims, though the police spokesman’s office declined to comment.

Netanyahu is a suspect in three corruption cases, one in which it has emerged that he will be questioned again after new recordings were received from a former spokesman who has turned state’s evidence.

Meanwhile, Halevy is considered a leading contender to be the next police commissioner. There have also been tensions recently between Halevy and Alsheich, partly because of the latest allegations, sources say.

According to sources familiar with the affair, Alsheich was furious with Halevy’s conduct and asked him to stop. He also asked the mediator between the two to stop.

Associates say Alsheich said he does not let anyone give orders that don’t go through the police. Sources say Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan was also not informed of the ties between Netanyahu and Halevy.

The Israel Television News Company reported Wednesday that Halevy refused to be appointed Alsheich’s deputy in the next round of appointments due to the tense relations between them. As a result, Erdan and Alsheich decided to appoint Maj. Gen. David Bitan, who only three months ago became commander of the Tel Aviv police district.

As reported in Haaretz two weeks ago, Netanyahu and Erdan do not plan to extend Alsheich’s term; the former deputy head of the Shin Bet security service will step down in December after three years at his post.

Halevy has served in five posts as a police major general, including as head of the southern branch and commander of the Border Police.

He was a contender for the commissioner’s job last time around. Still, despite all the experience and respect, Netanyahu and Erdan preferred Alsheich. Despite this, Halevy decided to remain in the police and vie for the post after Alsheich.

Halevy began his service in the police’s counterterrorism unit, where he rose through the ranks and took on commander roles. He later headed a Border Police unit consisting of policemen posing as Arabs.

In 2003 he became a regional head and later led the Border Police in Jerusalem. He was promoted to major general in 2009, becoming the head of the police’s anti-fraud unit.

He left that post a few months later. He later became the head of the police’s community and civil defense division and later the head of the Border Police. In November 2012 he became the commander of the police’s southern district. Four years later he was appointed to his current post as head of the Jerusalem District, during the stabbing and car-ramming wave then afflicting the city.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu will be questioned again in Case 2000, the Yedioth Ahronoth quid-pro-quo affair, after new recordings were received from state witness Nir Hefetz, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation reported Wednesday.

MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) will also be questioned regarding the new information, after contradictions were found in his testimony. MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) will also provide testimony.

In this case Netanyahu is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust for allegedly making an offer to Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes to rein in Yedioth rival Israel Hayom in exchange for better coverage. The prime minister’s wife Sara and his son Yair are also heard in the new recordings handed over by Hefetz.

Hefetz, a former spokesman and close associate of Netanyahu’s, signed an agreement in March to turn state’s evidence in the Bezeq-Walla affair, which the police have dubbed Case 4000.

Hefetz, who was detained for two weeks and is suspected of accepting bribes and obstructing justice, undertook to hand over recordings of the prime minister and his wife, as well as information in other cases against the prime minister. He is expected to receive full immunity in return for his testimony, which is supposed to strengthen the so-called lavish-gifts case — Case 1000 — as well as cases 2000 and 4000.

In case 4000, Netanyahu is suspected of using his role as communications minister from 2014 to 2017, while he was also premier, to intervene with regulators to help the Bezeq telecom group, which is controlled by Shaul Elovitch. In exchange, Elovitch, a friend of Netanyahu’s, allegedly ordered Bezeq’s Walla news site to provide favorable coverage.