PM rebuffs ‘ridiculous’ report he paid purported crony to follow police
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PM rebuffs ‘ridiculous’ report he paid purported crony to follow police

Insinuations that he had an 'associate' dig up dirt on cops only reinforce his misgivings about handling of the investigations against him, PM says

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on February 4, 2018. (AFP Photo/Pool/Jim Hollander)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on February 4, 2018. (AFP Photo/Pool/Jim Hollander)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back Sunday against media reports alleging that he paid an “associate” to dig up dirt on police investigators looking into allegations of graft on his part, accusing law enforcement officials of being biased against him.

“In the past 24 hours, the media has been offering ridiculous insinuations suggesting that I had employed… an ‘associate’ of mine, to follow police investigators.” Netanyahu wrote on Facebook, asserting that he had not met the ostensible associate for the past eight years.

“[These reports] say a lot about the continuation of the ridiculous attempt to connect me to the alleged surveillance of police investigators. I did not employ anyone,” Netanyahu insisted.

According to the reports, the associate was involved in efforts to gather information on investigators looking into two corruption probes of Netanyahu, dubbed “Case 1000” and “Case 2000.” The former involves allegations that the Netanyahu family received expensive gifts from billionaire benefactors that allegedly may have amounted to bribes. The latter is an investigation into an alleged quid pro quo agreement between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes in which the prime minister allegedly promised to weaken rival daily Israel Hayom in exchange for more positive coverage in Yedioth.

The reports of surveillance targeting his investigators only reinforce his own demand “to investigate immediately, independently and objectively,” Netanyahu said of the claims made by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich in an interview last week that that “powerful figures” had hired private investigators to collect information about the police investigators in the corruption cases, apparently to personally discredit them should they recommend indictments.

Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich attends a committee meeting at the Knesset on July 11, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In his Sunday Facebook post, Netanyahu repeated his complaint made after the interview that the claims themselves prejudice the investigation.

“The most important question remains: Would you rely on [indictment] recommendations formulated by investigators who think you have ‘obstructed’ their case?” he asked in the statement. Police are reportedly preparing to present their findings from the year-long probes to state prosecutors this week.

Netanyahu’s statement followed an earlier one in which he characterized the claims as “nonsense and vague insinuations that are an absurd campaign of slander against the prime minister. Period,” he said.

Some of the tracking of police investigators is believed to have been carried out via the internet from overseas over the course of the past year, a Hadashot TV report said.

But there was no clear-cut evidence that a criminal offense had been committed, Hadashot noted, as the purpose of the information-gathering was not yet clear.

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