Israel’s top investigative judicial officials have decided against proceeding with any criminal investigation at this stage into allegations that business interests of the Prime Minister’s lawyer influenced the purchase of three German submarines.
Media reports say that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Attorney Shai Nitsan met with Justice Ministry officials yesterday and decided that the available evidence does not justify a public inquiry or police investigation.
Nonetheless, the Justice Ministry issued a statement yesterday which indicated that a probe remains ongoing, saying: “Things are being examined, both factually and legally, and only after this examination it will be decided how to address [the affair].”
Channel Two reports that the lawyer at the centre of the controversy, David Shimron, underwent a polygraph test which indicated that he had not discussed the submarine deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Shimron helped negotiate the purchase, but also represents Miki Ganor, who is the Israeli representative of the German manufacturer of the submarines. Haaretz also reported that Shimron sat on the board of one of Ganor’s companies, which advised the German manufacturer.
Leading opposition figures, including Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuli, have called for a criminal investigation.
Netanyahu himself dismissed such calls yesterday. He denied any wrongdoing, telling his cabinet that “strengthening the security of Israel was my only consideration in deciding to purchase the submarine. It is the consideration that always guides me and no other”.
He added: “These strategic weapons systems guarantee [the navy’s] future, and I assure you, will safeguard the existence of Israel for the coming decades.”
Last week, Channel Ten claimed that Netanyahu’s government proceeded with the submarine purchase despite opposition over the need for the vessels from the IDF and former Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon.