Police are looking back to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s second government in their investigation of the so-called submarine affair, and recently interviewed two men who served as ministers in that government, Hadashot news reported Friday.
Dan Meridor, who was intelligence minister in the 2009-2013 cabinet, and Shaul Mofaz, who served as vice-prime minister under Netanyahu, both gave testimony to investigators seeking to understand the background to Case 3000.
The case involves suspicions that state officials were paid bribes to influence a decision to purchase four patrol boats and three Dolphin-class submarines costing a total of 2 billion euros from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition to the deal from the Defense Ministry.
Hadashot stressed that Meridor and Mofaz are not suspects in the investigation, and gave their testimonies to assist the probe.
Other former ministers under Netanyahu who have reportedly given testimony include former defense ministers Ehud Barak (2007-2013) and Moshe Ya’alon (2013-2016), former justice minister Tzipi Livni (2013-2014) and former finance minister Yair Lapid (2013-2014).
The Justice Ministry on Tuesday refuted a Yedioth Ahronoth report that said Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit had rejected a police request to summon Netanyahu for questioning in the affair.
“No such request has been filed on behalf of the police to the attorney general, nor to the state attorney.”
Last Friday, Hadashot news said Netanyahu would be asked to give testimony in the coming weeks, adding that he will be questioned generally and then, later, possibly as a suspect.
The Yedioth report also said a state witness in the investigation has alleged that Netanyahu’s personal lawyer and cousin David Shimron sought help from the prime minister in advancing the deal.
The new information came from state witness Miki Ganor, the report said, and could lead to Netanyahu being summoned for the first time for questioning in the investigation. The information was leaked despite authorities having stated in the past that Netanyahu is not a suspect in the case.
The Justice Ministry statement also referred to that portion of the report. “Concerning the rest of the reported details — we advise caution when dealing with publications about the investigation process, which are naturally partial, sometimes biased, and don’t necessarily reflect the reality,” the statement read.
Police suspect that Yitzchak Molcho, Netanyahu’s chief negotiator and personal envoy for over a decade, tried to push the submarine deal during his diplomatic trips abroad, while Shimron, Molcho’s legal partner, sought to promote the interests of the German shipbuilders within Israel.
Raoul Wootliff contributed to this report.