Editorial

Removed After Getting in the Way

Alsheich’s ousting is no surprise. It was preceded by a host of pointed attempts by Netanyahu and his toadies to limit the police’s power, to impugn its reliability and restrict its authority

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich speaks at Tel Aviv University.
Tomer Appelbaum

A blunt way of describing Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan’s decision not to extend the tenure of Police Commissioner Roni Roni Alsheich, which expires in December, is that Benjamin Netanyahu deposed the commissioner since the latter refused to fulfill the unofficial mission for which he was selected, namely, to interfere with the investigations of the prime minister and his wife.

>> Read more: Netanyahu May Have Gotten Rid of Israel's Police Chief, but Not of His Corruption Probes | Analysis

“The commissioner and I had differences of opinion and different approaches to various issues,” said Erdan at a press conference he called, at which he announced his decision, adding that “some of these issues are hefty and essential, affecting the public’s confidence in the police.” It’s hard to decide whether to laugh or cry at these words. First, because Erdan takes credit for the decision. As if anyone imagines that Erdan has the autonomy to make his own decisions or that he has the guts to demand such autonomy. Secondly, without diminishing any controversies between Alsheich and Erdan, it’s obvious what “essential and hefty issues” led to the termination of Alsheich’s term. These issues have a name and number: Case 1000, Case 2000, Case 3000 and Case 4000.

Alsheich was deposed for fulfilling his role as gatekeeper. He was let go for conducting the criminal investigations against Netanyahu lawfully, fearlessly and impartially. He was ousted for backing his own people in the police force and publicly supporting the recruitment of state witnesses against the prime minister. He was terminated for being loyal to his role instead of to the personal interests of the prime minister and his wife. Alsheich was deposed for possessing a quality that is foreign to the prime ministerial entourage and certainly to Erdan: courage. He was let go as revenge for the fact that the police under his command recommended indicting Netanyahu.

Alsheich’s ousting is no surprise. It was preceded by a host of pointed attempts by Netanyahu and his toadies to limit the police’s power, to impugn its reliability and restrict its authority. This was done through public attacks against the police and its commissioner and by legislating unfounded laws of a personal and retroactive nature with one purpose: to bend the law to suit the prime minister’s needs. This included the so-called “French Law,” which prohibits the investigation of a sitting prime minister, and the “Recommendations Law,” which prohibits the police from giving its recommendations when transferring evidence to state prosecutors. These tactics also involved a bill meant to reduce the salary of a police commissioner so that he doesn’t earn more than a prime minister. Now they’ve simply removed him.

One can only hope that the police completes its part of the investigations by December 2, when Alsheich steps down, so that there is no interference, and that the next person appointed commissioner turns out to be another wrong gamble by Netanyahu.