Politics Among the Police, Too

The smell of gas, which arrived a decade ago from Russia when Ariel Sharon was infrastructure minister, has grown closer and now comes from the Mediterranean, whether Palestinian or Egyptian.

The public admission by Yossi Maimon - who worked for the Mossad in Latin America - that he had used intelligence tactics and psychological warfare against former infrastructure minister Yosef Paritzky is a reminder that Israel is well-integrated in the region, part of the Third World, where corrupt and rotten government is the norm.

The smell of gas, which arrived a decade ago from Russia when Ariel Sharon was infrastructure minister, has grown closer and now comes from the Mediterranean, whether Palestinian or Egyptian.

Now is the time of privatization and its offenses. A business enterprise looks for a thread of suspicion against a hostile minister, prefering private investigators over the police; and before making decisions that are both financially and legally expensive, there's no time to waste with patient waiting. Instead, there's activity on every front, government and Knesset, media and parties (One of the TV channels was offered the Paritzky tape through mediators from Shas, the arch-rival of Shinui).

Into this picture comes Deputy Commander Yohanan Danino's appointment as head of operations for Public Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi - an accelerated promotion for an officer who only three years ago was still assigned to stolen car cases as a deputy superintendent. Danino is now the police officer closest to Hanegbi's ear, an excellent place from which to position a leap into the newly unified investigations and intelligence branch. During a brief term as head of the International and Serious Crimes Unit, Danino made his reputation with a recommendation to close the Sharon Greek island case.

The beauty of the Danino appointment is that there is no bureaucratic flaw to it - there was the one who recommended and the one who approved it, and everything was done legally and with mutual attribution of responsibility. The candidates for the job could be counted on the hands of all those hands shaken by Moshe Karadi and Hanegbi, since Karadi was picked as the new chief of police, due to take office on August 1.

Karadi, it has been hinted, proposed Danino and four other deputy commanders, including three whose promotions he wants - Amihai Shai, Dov Lutzky, and Yitzhak Tzur - as well as one promotion for a veteran, David Krause. Hanegbi considered all the recommendations and dithered and dithered until he finally pulled - surprise! - Danino out of the bunch.

Karadi is a clever fellow, who knows how to spot opportunities, levers, fulcrums, and power centers. He has well-formulated positions, but he is enlightened enough to recognize that there are other perspectives. Until recently he was even telling Danino that Danino should get out in the field as a subdistrict commander before considering promotion to commander or chief of the Criminal Investigations Department. But given Hanegbi's desires, Danino persuaded Karadi that he, Danino, could skip the annoying matter of a field command for an officer whose career path is investigations and who has no aspirations to head a district command or even be chief of police.

When Hanegbi surprised everyone with Karadi's appointment, there was no need to forge an explicit deal. Karadi is not like the outgoing chief, Shlomo Aharonishki, who refused to do his ex-boss, former minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, the favor of appointing Ben-Ami's favorite, Moshe Mizrahi, as head of investigations, until Ben-Ami imposed the appointment on Aharonishki with a rare display for ministerial authority over the police.

Hanegbi helped Karadi take command by showing the way out of the force to four commanders more veteran than he. Against the background of Karadi enlisting in Hanegbi's plan for cutting the number of branches and commanders, it is discordant that he is not removing Commander Yaacov Raz - indeed is giving him a new command that will leave Raz in the force for a few more years. Raz is known to be close to Likud insiders and to Avigdor Lieberman, who as transportation minister was foiled in his attempts to get Raz named CEO of the Israel Railways.

A few months ago in the Prime Minister's Office they were predicting - to foreigners, as well - that because of Danino, Sharon would escape the Greek island affair, and indeed, looking for reasons to drop the case, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz did rely on Danino. The next time the police wants parapsychologists to help break a case, it could look in its upper ranks. There's Hanegbi reading Sharon's mind, Karadi reading Hanegbi's, and in their wake, Danino reading the minds of every officer with control over his future.

Hanegbi and Aharonishki promised to grant commanders' ranks to Miri Golan, the head of the Fraud Squad. Keeping that promise will enable Hanegbi and Karadi to appoint new commanders to two of the national-level investigative units. The third national unit, for economic crimes, is temporarily subordinate to the chief of police.

As a politician, Hanegbi seems cut from the same mold as Moshe Shahal, possibly the only one of his predecessors - though Ronni Milo had some of the same instincts - who understood the power inherent to the position of the minister of public security, whose investigators can seal the fate of ministers and MKs, prime ministers and central committee members.

With Mazuz as attorney general, Eran Shandar - who on assignment from Elyakim Rubinstein sawed off the CID branch while running the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Unit - as state prosecutor, and Danino as the crown prince of CID, the politicians can start celebrating, on condition that they be on guard against businessmen and their private investigators.