Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday swatted back an opposition lawmaker who called in a High Court of Justice petition for a criminal probe into his dealings with a German shipbuilding company.
Netanyahu’s response to the petition filed by Zionist Union MK Erel Margalit in January said the initiative was “borderline obstruction of justice.”
“This petition is nothing but a direct continuation of an unbridled attack launched by the petitioner against the sitting prime minister for improper reasons,” Netanyahu’s lawyer said in a statement.
Margalit co-signed a petition to the High Court of Justice last month demanding that reports Netanyahu was involved in shady dealings with a German shipbuilding company and a French felon be fully investigated.
The petition by Margalit and Eldad Yaniv, a Labor party activist and an anti-Netanyahu crusader, calls on the court to instruct Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to be transparent in his probes of Netanyahu, particularly regarding a submarine deal with the German company ThyssenKrupp, and in his dealings with the convicted French fraudster Arnaud Mimran.
Netanyahu’s conduct in the purchase is being reviewed by police, in one of the probes that have been launched into his affairs. Known as Case 3000, it involves allegations that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer swayed the multi-billion-shekel deals in favor of German company ThyssenKrupp, which he represented in Israel. Police are checking whether the premier himself sought to influence the deals due to his ties to the attorney, David Shimron. According to Channel 2, the police were moving from a preliminary inquiry to a full criminal investigation into the so-called submarines affair, but Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case.
The petitioners claim that theirs is the biggest petition in Israel’s history, signed by some 19,000 people.
Margalit and Yaniv claim that the mandate given to the police by Mandelblit was vague and does not address the two biggest allegations against the prime minister: ThyssenKrupp and money he received from Mimran.
Netanyahu has denied all of the allegations against him, dismissing them as “nothing.”
Margalit and Yaniv launched the petition last month, with a video peppered with pictures of Netanyahu’s ostensibly lavish lifestyle and newspaper headlines detailing various alleged scandals in which he has been named. The two claimed Netanyahu has been using state coffers as “a personal cash box” and “ATM” for himself and his associates, and accused the prime minister of “selling out” Israel’s security and “ripping us off” with the ThyssenKrupp deals in exchange for personal enrichment.
On January 29, the Prime Minister’s Office published what it said was the full timeline of the process by which the state decided to purchase submarines from a German shipbuilding company, in an effort to demonstrate that Netanyahu did not attempt to influence the deliberations in any way.