Ben Gvir looking to boot top cop Shabtai early, accusing him of checking out of job

File - National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (right) and Police Chief Kobi Shabtai at the funeral of Border Police officer Sgt. Shay Germay at Karmiel military cemetery on January 7, 2024. (David Cohen/Flash90)
File - National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir (right) and Police Chief Kobi Shabtai at the funeral of Border Police officer Sgt. Shay Germay at Karmiel military cemetery on January 7, 2024. (David Cohen/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir says he is seeking to oust police chief Kobi Shabtai, accusing him of failing on the job, of checking out, and of being only interested in handing out promotions for his associates.

“For example, during preparations for events on Mount Meron, you did not appear at a situational assessment summing up the issue, you didn’t visit the operations room on the ground, and according to senior police officials, you were totally ‘out of touch,'” Ben Gvir writes in a letter inviting Shabtai to a hearing, according to the minister’s office. “These things are on top of the lack of substantive meetings… on crime in the Arab community and organized crime, despite my instructions on the subject, and the lack of discussions on car thefts, traffic crashes, police recruitment, budgeting, equipment and acquisitions, and general management of the police, while cops report to me on your general absence from work.”

Shabtai’s tenure is due to end on July 17 after Ben Gvir reluctantly extended his term for six months in January.

The top cop and minister have had a famously up-and-down relationship, with Ben Gvir’s attempts to closely manage the force causing friction between the two.

A pre-termination hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, after which Ben Gvir intends to ask the government to approve his early retirement.

In early April, Ben Gvir announced that Deputy Commissioner Avshalom Peled would become Israel’s next police commissioner once Shabtai vacated the post. The pick received scrutiny due to Ben Gvir’s history with Peled, who some have charged will act as a puppet to the minister, and a reported criminal probe involving the officer.

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