The former police commissioner who led the criminal investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had not believed the premier would still be in office when his corruption trial opened, implying that he thinks Netanyahu should have stepped down. The court process gets under way on Sunday.
“I didn’t believe that, when this trial began, Netanyahu would be serving as prime minister,” Roni Alsheich told Channel 12 news in remarks aired Saturday. “This is a stain on all those around him.”
Alsheich, a Netanyahu appointee who served as police chief from 2015-2018, also criticized a recent allegation issued by a political ally of the premier against Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
“Minister [David] Amsalem’s attack was meant to destabilize the balance of the entire system. This is mafia-like behavior that is not suitable in a democratic state,” Alsheich said.
He was referring to comments Thursday by David Amsalem, a Likud lawmaker who said there was “no dispute among the Israeli people” that Mandelblit is “allegedly a criminal” over his role in the so-called Harpaz affair from 2010. Mandelblit was never charged in that case, but has come under fire after a journalist broke a gag order to raise questions about his conduct in the affair.
Amsalem has previously issued harsh attacks on law enforcement figures involved in the investigations of Netanyahu, calling Alsheich “evil” in 2018 and claiming he tried to orchestrate a “coup” against the prime minister.
“What is no less shocking is the silence of most politicians. If leadership will continue to be silent after attacks like these, the turn of the panel of judges who are judging the Netanyahu case will come,” Alsheich said.
Separately, Channel 13 news reported Saturday that law enforcement officials were worried about illicit pressure being applied to key witnesses in the three cases Netanyahu faces charges in so they’ll change their testimony.
The report, which did not cite a source, said social media and unspecified acts could be used to apply such pressure.
With the start of the hearing Sunday, Netanyahu will become the first prime minister in Israel’s history to stand trial while in office.
He faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases, as well as bribery in one of them.
The premier denies wrongdoing and claimed the charges are an effort by the media, political rivals, law enforcement and prosecutors to remove him from office.