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Report: Netanyahu ordered illegal shredding of docs before Bennett takeover

June 18, 2021 at 2:55 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows a slideshow during a briefing to ambassadors to Israel at the Hakirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 19, 2021 [SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Shortly before Israel’s Naftali Bennett took over as prime minister, his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu ordered documents be shredded in his office, a report claimed yesterday. Sources who worked for Netanyahu said the former prime minister ordered them to discard the documents on Sunday, one day before the new government was due to take office. It was unclear which or how many documents were allegedly destroyed.

According to both civil service regulations and a cabinet decision, the shredding of documents is illegal. All documents, whether public or private, are meant to be preserved in the office’s archives, particularly documents pertaining to professional matters.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s office stated it was “unfamiliar with this issue,” but claimed it would look into it. A Netanyahu spokesperson denied the claim entirely, stating that “no such thing ever happened.”

The documents are stored in safes situated in an area known as the “Aquarium” where the prime ministers and their most senior aides sit. This area of the office typically contains the schedules of senior officials, documents concerning their work and other material. As mandated by law, the documents in the safes were to be moved to the office’s archives to be filed so that Bennett, his ministers and his senior aides could access them.

The report quoted unnamed staff who worked for the former prime minister and reported that they had been ordered to shred the documents on Sunday morning, hours before a coalition of parties working to remove Netanyahu from office took over. The staffers said that the order came directly from Netanyahu himself.

On Monday, Netanyahu handed the office and its formal powers over to Bennett after his 12-year rule. The meeting was reportedly unusually abrupt, ending without a traditional handshake, ceremony, or photo-op.

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