Police divided as A-G halts Netanyahu-linked probe
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Police divided as A-G halts Netanyahu-linked probe

Mandelblit says investigation into alleged corruption involving PM, ex-chief of staff is going nowhere, but not all cops agree

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, confers with then-cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit during a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on December 20, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, confers with then-cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit during a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, on December 20, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has ordered police to stop work into one of several cases being investigated in connection with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to Haaretz newspaper, this particular case involves US-born Ari Harow, who headed American Friends of Likud from 2003-2006 and served as Netanyahu’s bureau chief between 2008-2010, and again in 2014.

Suspicions arose that American Friends of Likud financed overseas trips for Netanyahu’s wife Sara and underwrote the salary of Odelia Karmon, who was a private adviser to Netanyahu while he was in the opposition, at a cost of $10,000 per month. The period under investigation was prior to 2009, when Harow was in charge. Netanyahu returned to the prime minister’s chair in 2009 and has remained in power since.

Differences of opinion have arisen between Mandelblit, who believes the probe is leading nowhere, and police investigators, who wish to question additional figures under caution, Haaretz said. One of the people police want to talk to is the Netanyahu family’s lawyer, David Shimron.

Ari Harow began working as a foreign affairs adviser to Netanyahu in 2007, while the latter was in the opposition, and Netanyahu appointed him bureau chief in 2008. Harow left politics in 2010 to start a political consultancy firm, which works with politicians and political campaigns. He served a second stint as the PM’s bureau chief in 2014, and directed the election campaign that kept Netanyahu in office in the 2015 national elections.

Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Ari Harow, former chief of staff of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a Likud meeting in the Israeli parliament, November 24, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A statement issued on Netanyahu’s behalf said: “All the activities of the prime minister and his wife during the period in question, and at all times, were carried out within the law and according to the accepted rules. Attempts by elements in the media to put unacceptable pressure on law enforcement figures so they will take action against Netanyahu will not work this time either, for the simple reason that there isn’t, and wasn’t, anything.”

In December 2015, Harow was questioned under caution on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust, and was held under house arrest for five days.

In July, he was detained for questioning at Ben Gurion Airport and grilled for 14 hours in connection with the suspected financial violations involving Netanyahu.

During recent months, the police have been investigating several cases relating to Netanyahu and his associates.

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