State Inquiry Sends Warning Notices to Netanyahu in Submarine Affair Probe

By Yoni Weiss

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu seen at a welcoming ceremony for a new submarine at the navy base in Haifa, in 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

A state commission of inquiry investigating the so-called submarine affair announced Monday that it is sending warning notices to five individuals, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former naval commander Admiral Ram Rothberg. These notices will allow them to submit additional testimony and view evidence related to their conduct.

In an 11-page statement, the commission stated that Netanyahu made decisions with “significant implications for security” without following an orderly decision-making process. He allegedly bypassed his own government to make agreements with Germany on political, security, and economic issues and made defense purchases “without orderly staff work [while] deviating from the operational needs established by the government.”

The commission also noted that Netanyahu excluded relevant security bodies from the decision-making process on “sensitive political-security questions,” avoided documenting meetings, and “created parallel and conflicting channels of action, thereby risking the state’s security and harming Israel’s foreign relations.”

In addition to Netanyahu and Rothberg, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, and former National Security Council employee Avner Simchoni are also set to receive warnings from the commission.

Formed under former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in 2022, the commission has spent over two years probing submarine and naval vessel purchases that occurred under a previous Netanyahu government. Israel purchased the vessels from German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp in a murky $2 billion deal that has been under scrutiny for possible corruption and bribery.

While Netanyahu is reportedly not considered a suspect, he has given testimony to the police in connection with the deal. Several of his close associates have been indicted and convicted for their involvement in the negotiations.

In a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu defended the submarine acquisitions, stating that “the submarines are a central pillar of Israel’s national security and in ensuring its existence against Iran, which is trying to destroy us.”

The statement added, “Not only does the acquisition of the submarines not harm the security of the state – it ensures its existence. History will prove that Prime Minister Netanyahu was right on this issue as well and made the right decisions for the security of Israel.”

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