Netanyahu said backing ex-cop, his attorney in spending probe, for police chief

Yaakov Borovsky’s name reportedly came up during talks on who will head force; public security minister denies report, as does PM’s office

David Shimron, attorney for Likud political party (L) with Yaakov Borovsky at a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 17, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
David Shimron, attorney for Likud political party (L) with Yaakov Borovsky at a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 17, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to appoint a former senior police official who has represented the premier’s family in a criminal investigation to be the country’s next police commissioner, Channel 12 news reported Wednesday.

The network said Netanyahu’s Likud party has floated Yaakov Borovsky’s name in talks with coalition partners the Blue and White party and has also asked to dismantle a vetting committee for the nomination of senior civil servants.

Netanyahu’s office denied the report and said the prime minister, who faces criminal charges in a series of graft probes, isn’t involved in picking a new police chief.

Public Security Minister Amir Ohana also denied the report, telling Channel 12 “no one has any idea what the list of candidates is and who is on it.”

“No name has been raised between the prime minister and me,” Ohana said, stressing that he is the minister who is supposed to present the candidates for police chief to the cabinet.

Netanyahu has been clashing with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit over whether he should be involved in appointing senior law enforcement officials, including a commissioner, or whether he is in a conflict of interest due to his criminal trial and should recuse himself.

Borovsky himself was investigated in 2004 over suspicions he offered then-prime minister Ariel Sharon favorable treatment in a corruption probe in exchange for being appointed police commissioner. The case was closed after he was cleared of some of the accusations against him, and due to lack of evidence regarding others, Channel 12 reported.

In 2015, he represented the Netanyahu family after a state comptroller report alleged financial improprieties at the Prime Minister’s Residence and his private home in Caesarea.

According to the report, the Likud party wants to do away with the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee, also known as the Goldberg Committee, because it believes the forum won’t approve Borovsky’s appointment.

Ohana is of the opinion that if the committee isn’t disbanded then at least the chair, former Supreme Court judge Eliezer Goldberg, should be replaced.

In 2018 the committee rejected the government’s pick for commissioner, Maj. Gen. Moshe “Chico” Edri, with some accusing Goldberg of making his decision for racist reasons.

Ohana has been interviewing candidates for the top job in recent weeks, including top brass within the force and outside candidates. Police have been without a permanent commissioner since December 2018, when Roni Alsheich departed the force.

The lack of an elected government over subsequent repeated election cycles prevented the approval of a permanent commissioner, and former deputy commissioner Motti Cohen has been serving as acting chief in the interim.

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