Police Chief Roni Alsheich on Thursday tried to distance his force from a speech in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attacked law enforcement and dismissed the looming recommendations that charges be brought against him.
“[Police] are not part of this discourse,” Alsheich said at a ceremony marking the changing of commanders for the Coastal District.
“We need to do our professional work. It is what we do and it is what we will continue to do,” he vowed.
In his speech Tuesday Netanyahu played down the significance of expected future recommendations by police to state prosecutors that he be indicted over the graft probes. Officers confirmed this week that they have completed the investigations against him and are preparing their recommendations.
“If there will be recommendations [to indict] — so what?” Netanyahu told a rally of Likud members. “Here’s a fact I doubt the public knows: The vast majority of police recommendations end with nothing. More than 60 percent of police recommendations are thrown out.”
Netanyahu has in the past criticized the police’s handling of the investigations into him and has suggested that Alsheich was behind a series of leaks to media about the cases.
The commissioner said that the prime minister’s attacks do “not disturb the work” of the investigation. “The debate that has emerged is a public debate and not a police discourse,” he said.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, whose office is responsible for the police, was at the event but declined to answer reporters’ questions.
However, on Wednesday Erdan expressed mild disapproval of Netanyahu’s speech.
“I am not satisfied with all of his statements, and I am not satisfied with the style or the interpretation that can emerge from these statements,” said Erdan, whose office oversees the Israel Police, in the Knesset plenum.
“I say from this podium that I think police are doing their job and I do not question their role,” he said, adding that Netanyahu’s remarks required a more “in-depth explanation.”
Netanyahu is a suspect in two corruption investigations, known as cases 1000 and 2000.
In the first, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
Netanyahu, who has been questioned seven times by police, most recently on Friday, has denied wrongdoing in both cases.