Police minister orders probe into claims Netanyahu investigators were tailed
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Police minister orders probe into claims Netanyahu investigators were tailed

Gilad Erdan, whose office oversees police, pens letter to Avichai Mandelblit, saying that allowing claims to fester puts public trust in government at risk

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at the International jurists conference in Jerusalem on February 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at the International jurists conference in Jerusalem on February 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan sent a letter on Wednesday to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit calling on him to investigate claims made by Police Chief Roni Alsheich that the officers investigating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged corruption had been tailed.

“This is a significant and worrying statement (made by Alsheich) that should cause anyone who takes the rule of law and independence of law enforcement seriously to lose sleep at night,” wrote Erdan, whose ministry oversees the police.

“I cannot ignore these things and move on to the next item on the agenda.”

In a rare interview last week to Hadashot news’s investigative program “Uvda,” Alsheich claimed that “powerful figures” had hired private investigators to follow, pressure and collect information about the police investigators in the Netanyahu cases, apparently to personally discredit them should they recommend indictments.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit at a Knesset event honoring Israel’s police force, January 5, 2018. (Yitzhak Harari/Knesset)

Netanyahu responded by calling for an immediate probe into Alsheich’s “false and outrageous” suggestions, and also said that the claims cast doubt on the objectivity of the case officers, as well as on the purity of the entire investigation into him.

In his Wednesday letter, Erdan asked Mandelblit to run the investigation into Alsheich’s claims, saying his ministry didn’t have the means to do so on its own.

“Leaving this issue ‘in the air’ without the public receiving information about what actually happened could significantly harm public trust in governmental systems,” the public security minister concluded.

Separately, Alsheich will appear before the Knesset International Affairs and Environment Committee on Sunday to address the “Uvda” interview comments.

The hearing with Alsheich was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but Likud MK Yoav Kisch, the committee chairman, announced Tuesday the hearing would be delayed following publication of police recommendations to indict Netanyahu for bribery and fraud Tuesday night.

The prime minister’s call for the Alsheich claims to be “investigated immediately, independently and objectively,” was apparently the impetus for Kisch’s summons of the police chief.

On Tuesday, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two criminal investigations involving suspicions he accepted gifts and favors from wealthy businessmen in exchange for advancing their interests.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the Muni Expo 2018 conference at the Tel Aviv Convention Center on February 14, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Netanyahu called the police recommendations “unfounded,” vowing his innocence and saying he would lead Israel for years to come.

The police recommendations will now go to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who will have to decide whether to indict Netanyahu on any or all of the suggested charges.

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