Israeli police took testimony on Tuesday from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as part of an investigation into a conflict-of-interest case involving a $2 billion purchase of German submarines and some of the Israeli leader’s closest associates.
Police were seen arriving at Netanyahu’s official residence and later confirmed in a statement that they questioned Netanyahu for several hours in the case, in which he has not been named a suspect. It was the first time he was questioned in this specific case, they added.
“The investigation is being conducted under the supervision and oversight of the state prosecutor, and with the approval of the attorney general,” the statement continued. “Beyond that, we cannot elaborate on additional details from ongoing investigations.”
However, a spokesperson for the Netanyahu family said the prime minister “detailed all the professional considerations which guided his decision-making in the matter of the submarines and naval vessels, and their importance to the security of the country.”
“The prime minister welcomed the opportunity to clarify the complete picture and to finally put an end to the false claims that have been made against him by politicians and others,” the spokesperson said.
Netanyahu was expected to be questioned as a suspect in a separate corruption case involving the country’s telecom giant, Bezeq. Two Netanyahu confidants have been arrested on suspicion of promoting regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the telecom company.
In return, Bezeq’s subsidiary news site, Walla, allegedly provided positive Netanyahu coverage. The confidants have turned state witnesses.
But police later said investigators had questioned Netanyahu only over the submarine affair.
Netanyahu’s personal attorney, who is also his cousin, represented the German firm involved, and is suspected of using his influence over the prime minister in return for a hefty cut of the deal.
Police have recommended indicting Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two other cases. One involves accusations that he received gifts from billionaire business moguls. The other alleges that Netanyahu offered a newspaper publisher legislation that would weaken his paper’s main rival in return for more favorable coverage.
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the accusations as a witch hunt orchestrated by a hostile media.