Top official held in graft probe named as former security aide pick

Avriel Bar-Yosef, tapped earlier this year to become national security adviser, suspected of pushing business interests of German acquaintances as Israel formulated gas policy

Retired IDF brigadier general Avriel Bar-Yosef (GPO)
Retired IDF brigadier general Avriel Bar-Yosef (GPO)

The former senior official who was questioned by police on suspicion of corruption was named Thursday as Avriel Bar-Yosef, the man Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had wanted to serve as national security adviser.

He is suspected of bribery, money laundering, fraud and breach of trust.

Bar-Yosef, 61, had been nominated by Netanyahu to serve as national security adviser, a top administration post, but withdrew his candidacy in July after advocacy groups alleged the ex-aide received money from foreign business associates, constituting a conflict of interest.

The Prime Minister’s Office passed the complaint on to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who in July instructed the police to open an investigation into the matter, Hebrew media reported.

A brigadier-general in the IDF reserves, Bar-Yosef served for 25 years in the navy and was director of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, director of the Defense Budget Committee and deputy chief of the National Security Council.

In details of the case permitted for publication it was revealed that Bar-Yosef is suspected of not reporting his connections to German businessmen who had an interest in the development of Israel’s offshore natural gas reserves.

The investigation is being overseen by the State Attorney’s Economic Department.

Bar-Yosef, who was deeply involved in forming the natural gas policies, is said to have pushed for the establishment of a facility that would have reaped large profits for the Germans, despite objections from experts.

He is suspected of having received benefits and bribes from the German moguls, some of which were delivered to members of his family.

Channel 2 reported that investigators are also checking whether one of the Germans, Michael Herzog, also contacted other officers in the navy and tried to persuade them to push his interests.

On Tuesday Bar-Yosef was detained for questioning along with a female suspect and their homes and offices were raided by police.

After answering questions for some 12 hours he was released to house arrest. The female suspect, who has not been named in media, was also released under conditional terms.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed