PM Slams Police Chief Over Interrogation Leaks

Police Chief Roni Alshich (L) with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu slammed Police Chief Roni Alshich on Motzoei Shabbos after a report on Channel Two said that police were set to renew their corruption probe against Netanyahu – based on police insiders who leaked the information. In a rare outburst by the prime minister, Netanyahu accused Alschich of running “a media witch hunt” against him, and utilizing police leaks to target him personally.

“When Police Chief Alschich began his job, he made two important decisions – to no longer tolerate leaks on investigations, and to stop making recommendations to justice authorities on whether to prosecute individuals,” Netanyahu’s office wrote in a statement, in response to the report. “Ever since the police hired political adviser Lior Horev as a consultant – at a cost of millions to the taxpayer, and without a public tender – the leaks have turned into a tsunami of information, and the decision to avoid making recommendations on prosecution has evaporated.

“The public has for a long time understood that there is a public campaign in the media against the prime minister,” Netanyahu’s office wrote. “As in the past, the current ‘charges’ against Netanyahu will be disproven and shown to be false. Nothing will come out of these reports and leaks.”

According to the Channel Two report, police are set to further question Netanyahu in the two corruption scandals he is involved in – Case 1000, in which Netanyahu was accused of accepting extravagant gifts from millionaire Arnon Milchin, and Case 2000, in which the prime minister allegedly leaned on the publishers of Yisrael Hayom to limit distribution of their free newspaper in order to benefit from better coverage in rival newspaper Yediot Acharonot. Netanyahu has repeatedly said about both cases that “there will be nothing, because there is nothing” for investigators to find. Netanyahu may also be called to give testimony in Case 3000, an investigation into a bribery scandal surrounding Israel’s purchase of submarines from Germany. Netanyahu is not considered a suspect in this case.

In response to the statement by Netanyahu’s office, Israel Police said in a statement Sunday that the force “does its work faithfully and according to the laws of the country. We will not be dragged into unsustainable disputes designed to mar the work of police and damage the legitimacy of the rule of law.”

The comments by Netanyahu’s office, the statement said, are “a continuation of a campaign that has been going on for several months against police by elected officials designed to weaken investigators’ work,” including “attempts to damage the budget of police, and a proposal to jail for up to a year investigators who make recommendations on moving forward with charges based on investigation results.” None of these efforts, the statement said, “will be allowed to harm the independence of investigators and the investigations they are conducting.”

The Channel Two report said that police believe that there is enough evidence in Case 1000 to charge Netanyahu. With that, it said, there was still much work to be done in putting together a case, and it is not clear if police will recommend charging Netanyahu separately in both cases, or in a single indictment.