Both the head of the investigation team probing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in two separate graft cases, and his de-facto deputy have been transferred to different units, just weeks before final police recommendations on indictments are expected, Israeli TV reported Sunday.
Chief Superintendent Moshe Meshulam, who has headed the year-long investigations, and Superintendent Dani Ofer, his number two, have been pulled from Cases 1000 and 2000 and moved to the international department of the police’s Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, according to Channel 10.
The television station quoted police sources as describing the move as “inexplicable.”
Police said in response to the report that the removal of the two officers from the cases would not impact the investigations.
“The investigations are being carried out with full responsibility and seriousness by the skilled and professional investigation teams and under the supervision of the State Prosecution,” a police statement said. “These specific officers are still taking part in preparing the summary of the investigation.”
The decision to take Meshulam and Ofer off the investigations into Netanyahu comes after State Attorney Shai Nitzan hinted earlier this month that police would submit their recommendations in the case within weeks.
However, Hadashot TV news reported that police have revised their plan to submit recommendations in the two corruption cases against Netanyahu in the first weeks of the year, with the investigation now set to continue for several more months.
A police source told the channel that police may want to question Netanyahu for an eighth time, and also follow up on several additional leads overseas.
Netanyahu is being investigated in two cases. Case 1000 relates to allegations that Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, received 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 “Noni” Mozes that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.