Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit contradicted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s account of a controversial purchase of German submarines by Egypt in a letter broadcast by Israeli media on Sunday evening.
In a live TV interview on Saturday evening, Netanyahu said his 2015 decision to end Israeli opposition to the sale of German submarines to Egypt, was made on the basis of secret intelligence which he revealed to the Attorney General. But in a letter, Mandelblit’s office stated: “For the record, we note that the attorney general was not exposed to this secret piece of information at any stage.”
Netanyahu is under fire from political opponents in the election campaign for making the decision to allow the sale to Egypt without consulting with his then-minister of defence Moshe Yaalon, or then-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz. Both men are now candidates for the rival Blue and White party challenging Netanyahu in the election.
The idea that there are state secrets that the prime minister cannot reveal to the IDF chief of staff and minister of defence has been met with incredulity by several former security officials and commentators.
This story is part of what is known as the ‘submarine affair’, or ‘Case 3000’. Netanyahu’s cousin and attorney David Shimron is one of several individuals who the police have recommended be indicted because of his role in the Israeli decision to buy submarines from the German company ThyssenKrupp. Shimron is suspected of offering bribes to officials to back the purchase. Netanyahu was not charged in the case but it is now reported that he previously profited from the sale of shares in a steel company that supplied ThyssenKrupp. In another development, the state’s witness in the case, Mickey Ganor, who represented ThyssenKrupp in Israel, declared his intention to renounce part of his testimony, late last week.
Netanyahu is reported to have supported the deal for Israel to buy submarines and ships from ThyssenKrupp against the advice of military commanders who said they were not needed, raising suspicions of a conflict of interest.
The Blue and White Party have been campaigning hard on the issue demanding a public inquiry.