Top cop to be grilled by MKs Sunday over claim investigators were tailed
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Top cop to be grilled by MKs Sunday over claim investigators were tailed

Roni Alsheich summoned to testify before Knesset committee on assertion that private sleuths were gathering info about officers looking into PM

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh (L) and Likud MK Yoav Kisch at the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, February 5, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh (L) and Likud MK Yoav Kisch at the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee, February 5, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Police chief Roni Alsheich has been summoned to appear at a Knesset hearing next week regarding the police’s handling of a pair of corruption investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Alsheich will appear before the Knesset International Affairs and Environment Committee on Sunday to address a claim made in an interview last week that “powerful figures” had hired private investigators to collect information about police probing corruption cases surrounding Netanyahu, in an apparent effort to personally discredit them.

Netanyahu has said that the “ridiculous” allegations of interference by his allies prove that police are biased against him and cannot be trusted to carry out a fair investigation.

The hearing with Alsheich was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but Likud MK Yoav Kisch, the committee chairman, announced Tuesday the hearing would be delayed until next week 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.

Earlier Wednesday, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who oversees the police, called on the attorney general to probe the claims made by Alsheich.

“I urge them not to leave this issue alone, and I expect them to do everything in their power to obtain answers,” he said in the Knesset.

“If, heaven forbid, someone is gathering information about investigators, this is something that the public needs to know about,” Erdan said, adding that he’s “not able to sleep at night over it.”

Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson attends a Knesset Internal Affairs Committee meeting on November 30, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Opposition chief whip MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) said the planned hearing was aimed at “threatening the police commissioner and those surrounding him,” calling Kisch “a strawman directed by the prime minister.”

In response, Kisch said he was simply “fulfilling my parliamentary duty to oversee the work of the police,” and accused the opposition of shirking that responsibility.

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.

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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