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Hearings in submarine affair probe to be open to public, despite state’s request

Knesset committee rejects government’s request for confidentiality, but allows for certain specific discussions to remain behind closed doors

Activists call for the opening of a committee of inquiry in the so-called submarine affair, outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Activists call for the opening of a committee of inquiry in the so-called submarine affair, outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on January 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Most hearings held by the state commission of inquiry into the so-called “submarine affair” will be open to the public, the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee ruled unanimously on Tuesday.

Hearings expected to touch on operational aspects of the affair, as well as issues concerning the sale of German submarines to third parties, will be held behind closed doors, with protocols of the discussions made public afterward, the committee said.

The decision denies a request made by the government that all the proceedings remain confidential.

The state commission of inquiry, approved by the cabinet in January, will consist of five panelists headed by former Supreme Court president Asher Grunis.

It is tasked with examining a murky $2 billion deal to purchase submarines from the German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp. More specifically, it will attempt to evaluate the procedures and decision-making employed by the political echelon related to the sensitive procurement, conducted under the government of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid had long called publicly for a state commission into the deal, while Netanyahu decried the move as a witch hunt.

Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid walks through a protest supporting the establishment of a committee of inquiry into the submarine affair, outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, January 23, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

The incident dates back to 2012 and has become known as Case 3000. The deal has already led to a number of indictments against several close confidants of Netanyahu, though the ex-premier has not been named as a suspect.

However, Netanyahu is expected to be called as a chief witness in the probe, which will likely make him the first Israeli former prime minister ever called to give testimony before a government-backed commission of inquiry.

David Shimron, Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and cousin, has been charged with money laundering in connection with the deal, and Miki Ganor, Thyssenkrupp’s representative in Israel, has been charged with bribery.

Shaike Bareket, who held the position prior to Ganor, said last month that it was impossible that Netanyahu was not familiar with all the details of the deal.

Israeli businessman Miki Ganor, arrested in the submarine affair known as “Case 3000,” at a hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on March 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Bareket also said the commission must closely investigate Shimron’s role in the deal. “I think it’s something that needs to be investigated all the way through,” he said, claiming that Shimron associated constantly with Thyssenkrupp officials and presented himself as Netanyahu’s inside man.

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