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Government votes to establish inquiry commission into submarine affair

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)

The cabinet votes to establish a state commission of inquiry into the so-called submarine affair, regarded as the biggest corruption scandal in Israel’s history.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett abstains in the vote, explaining that “a government is tasked with governing, and if the public is dissatisfied — the public will replace it in elections.”

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, a top member of Bennett’s Yamina party, votes against the panel’s formation, arguing that years have passed and the commission amounts to one government effectively prosecuting its predecessor. Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin of the right-wing New Hope party originally planned to oppose, but said during the meeting that he would vote in favor of the proposal.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz reportedly says in the cabinet meeting that his motives in opening the probe into the Netanyahu-era saga aren’t personal or political, and that he’s acting “as a defense minister out of a critical national need.”

The submarine deal has already led to a number of indictments against several close confidants of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called for the procurement, though not against the ex-premier himself. The corruption suspicions and subsequent indictments were handled by police in what is known officially as Case 3000.

In a swipe at the previous premier, Bennett says the defense procurement procedures in the current government “are free of ulterior motives,” referring to the purchase of German submarines approved last week.

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