Vetting panel gives go-ahead for Roni Alsheich as new police chief
search

Vetting panel gives go-ahead for Roni Alsheich as new police chief

Appointment now faces cabinet vote, expected to pass next week; minister says he did not receive any opposition to nomination

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

Roni Alsheich arrives to testify before the Turkel Commission at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on October 1, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Roni Alsheich arrives to testify before the Turkel Commission at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on October 1, 2015. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A committee charged with vetting major appointments gave the green light Thursday to Shin Bet deputy head Roni Alsheich to become Israel’s next police commissioner, all but ending a months-long search for a new chief for the organization.

The Turkel Commission for senior public positions said it had “found no obstacles” to hold up the appointment of Roni Alsheich to the position of police chief, the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.

Alsheich must now be approved by the government, which it is expected to do at a cabinet meeting next week.

Officials are hoping the appointment will bring an end to a tumultuous era for the police, which has been without a permanent chief since July, and has been rocked in recent years by a string of corruption and sexual harassment scandals.

The Turkel Commission convened Thursday morning to discuss the appointment, hearing testimony from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, former chief of police Yohanan Danino, as well as from Alsheich himself.

Following the meeting, Erdan posted on his Twitter account that the committee had “not received even one letter of opposition.”

“I hope my nomination will be approved by the end of the day,” he wrote.

Erdan’s pick was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, days after the prime minister and public security minister announced they were dropping the nomination of former Israel Defense Forces commander Gal Hirsch.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (left) speaks with Deputy Police Commissioner Bentzi Sau in Jerusalem on September 7, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (left) speaks with Deputy Police Commissioner Bentzi Sau in Jerusalem on September 7, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

After weeks of controversy and reports of misconduct, Erdan announced that he would rescind the nomination of Hirsch as the next Israel Police Commissioner.

Erdan had vehemently sought to appoint Hirsch, a former Israel Defense Forces officer and police outsider, as the next police chief, but Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said it would take months for him to investigate questions arising from Hirsch’s private business dealings.

Senior police officers also opposed the appointment from outside the force, and others also questioned Hirsch’s record during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Alsheich, 52, is married and a father of seven. He lived for many years in a settlement not far from Ramallah, but several years ago moved to a religious community in central Israel.

Alsheich did his military service in the Paratroopers Brigade and commanded the brigade’s engineering platoon. His successor in that role, coincidentally, was Gal Hirsch.

In the late 1980s he joined the Shin Bet, where he served in several roles. He has been deputy chief of the organization for the past year, a role which includes filling in for the commander when the latter is away.

Reportedly nicknamed “The Fox” and considered a top performer in the intelligence agency, Alsheich was expected, until the announcement Friday, to be the top candidate to take over command of the Shin Bet after current chief Yoram Cohen steps down. Cohen will conclude a five-year term in May 2016.

Alsheich was reportedly convinced by Netanyahu to take the police job after being told that the Shin Bet would also seek an outsider for its next chief.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this article.

read more:
comments