YERUSHALAYIM - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu struck back on Thursday at what he branded “a coordinated campaign of leftists who want to undermine my government” through false allegations about corruption involving his associates.
In a closed-door meeting with Likud allies, the prime minister reportedly said: “I’ve been wronged by the media. They’re trying to connect my name with two investigations that have nothing to do with me — Elovitz and the submarines.”
“Elovitz isn’t my friend. He’s my acquaintance in a sense that doesn’t require reporting. As soon as the baseless article in Haaretz was published, I acquiesced to the attorney general’s suggestion and stopped dealing with [issues related to] Bezeq,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying, in effect that his tenure as Communications Minister was in compliance with the law. Netanyahu allegedly was in a conflict of interest in dealing with Bezeq mogul Shaul Elovitz.
“It’s all lies,” Netanyahu reportedly said, designed to create an “atmosphere of rampant corruption” to defeat him in the next election.
Netanyahu’s confidantes included Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Environment Protection Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev and Science and Technology Minister Ofir Akunis. Coalition chairman MK David Bitan, along with Likud MK’s Miki Zohar and Amir Ohana, also attended the gathering in the prime minister’s office at midday Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Rishon Letzion Magistrate’s Court extended the remands of Miki Ganor and Avriel Bar-Yosef, two of the main suspects in the investigation into suspected improprieties in the procurement of German-made submarines for the Israeli navy.
Judge Einat Ron commented on Thursday that “most of the material [collected by police] in this affair is not known to the media” and that there have been “quite a few developments” in the investigation of Bar-Yosef and others.
Attorney Jack Chen who represents Avriel Bar-Yosef told The Jerusalem Post that his client is cooperating with police and denies the allegations against him.
Ganor’s lawyer also issued a denial. “Mr. Ganor did not give bribes to anyone,” attorney Nati Simchony said in court on Thursday, quoted by Channel 2. “He accepted his position with the German shipbuilder without the need for any help from any official and therefore he did not request or need to pay any person,” Simchony said.