Following rumors that the prime minister and police minister will not extend his term as head of Israel’s police force, Roni Alsheich has reportedly said that he will not compromise on his values to hold onto the job.
For months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under investigation in three separate cases, has railed against Alsheich, accusing him of leaking information to the press and of conducting a “witch hunt.” Recently, reports have spread that Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan are not planning on giving Alsheich a customary fourth year when his three-year term ends in December.
In response, Alsheich said that he would not give up his own morals or waver from the law in order to stay in the job, a TV report said Sunday.
“If, to get an extension, a fourth year, I have to give up on my values, or the value of the rule of law, that’s not for me,” Hadashot news quoted him as telling confidants.
Alsheich, who came to the police from the Shin Bet security service, also reportedly said that he never asked for the job. “They pleaded with me,” he was quoted saying. But he added that, “The good of the police, the good of the public, requires and deserves four years, to complete the job.”
In a clear message to Netanyahu and Erdan, Alsheich reportedly ended his comments saying, “If they have other considerations, let them look for someone else.”
The TV quoted police sources as saying that during his term there has been a marked reduction in crime, as well as a real organizational change, so there could be no professional excuse for not giving him a fourth year.
Alsheich’s current term is due to end on December 3. By that time, it is expected that the police will have finalized their recommendations in all the cases involving Netanyahu to the state prosecutor, so if Alsheich leaves, it will have no impact on the outcome of the investigation. In February, the police recommended Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in relation to Cases 1000 and 2000.
Erdan responded to Alsheich’s reported comments on Twitter, saying that he had not yet given any thought as to whether to extend the police chief’s term.
“Following the false reports today, I want to clarify and stress again, I have not been involved at all in the issue of extending the police chief’s term and I do not yet have any opinion on the matter,” Erdan tweeted. “Quite the opposite — I said in the clearest way possible that it is not yet time to discuss it. The entire report has no connection at all to reality.”
Last month, Netanyahu said that law enforcement officials were being pressured to pursue criminal investigations against him that have no basis, saying they were carrying out a “witch hunt” against him.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, in return for certain benefits.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister take steps to weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
Netanyahu has also been questioned in Case 4000, which involves suspicions he advanced regulations benefiting Bezeq telecom’s owner Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for flattering coverage from Bezeq’s Walla news site.
Case 3000 involves suspected corruption in the multi-billion-shekel purchase of submarines and other naval vessels from a German shipbuilder. The investigation has focused on suspicions that state officials were bribed to influence a decision to purchase four patrol boats and three Dolphin-class submarines costing a total of 2 billion euros from ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition to the deal from the Defense Ministry.
Police have clarified repeatedly that Netanyahu is not a suspect in Case 3000, but several people close to the prime minister are.
Netanyahu and his family have denied any wrongdoing in all of the cases.