Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become embroiled in yet another scandal. The Likud leader was questioned yesterday by police in connection with an investigation into alleged corruption relating to Israel’s $2 billion purchase of submarines from Germany.
The Financial Times reported that Netanyahu was grilled for “several hours” at his official residence in Jerusalem. While Israel’s premier is not thought to be a suspect at the moment, the questioning by police over such long hours is bound to raise suspicions given that he is already under investigation over several cases of corruption.
Yesterday’s interrogation focused on a deal to buy three German submarines in 2016. The local representative for the German company, Miki Ganor, allegedly bribed Israeli officials to secure the deal. According to the FT Ganor signed an agreement last year to turn state’s witness.
The bribery scandal involves several close associates of Netanyahu including a former national security adviser and his former chief of staff. The prime minister’s personal lawyer, David Shimron, who is also Mr Netanyahu’s cousin, is also identified as a suspect in the probe.Ofer Golan, Mr Netanyahu’s lawyer, said in a statement that the prime minister “welcomes the opportunity given to him to clarify the picture in its entirety, and put an end once and for all to the false claims stated against him by politicians and others”.
Corruption scandals have followed the Netanyahus since he took office nine years ago. Though he has denounced the investigations as nothing but a “witch-hunt”, his critics maintain that there is no smoke without fire.
The Israeli Prime Minister and his wife are currently entangled in three separate investigations: Netanyahu has been accused of fraud and accepting bribes in relation to his friendships with Arnon Milchan, an Israeli-born Hollywood filmmaker, and Australian billionaire James Packer. Police recommended in February that he be indicted. Known as Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are accused of “committing of crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust”.
The same charges have been made against the right wing Likud leader in what is known as Case 2000. Netanyahu is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust for allegedly attempting to buy favourable newspaper coverage by slowing the growth of a rival newspaper through legislation and other means. The Israeli Attorney General called for his indictment for a second time.