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Reviews Suspected of corruption: Israel's grand coalition may be on the verge of implosion

19:00  26 november  2020
19:00  26 november  2020 Source:   tagesspiegel.de

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Israel Defense Minister Gantz has the purchase of German submarines checked. It's about a billion dollar business - and the role of Netanyahu.

Netanjahu wird vorgeworfen, das U-Boot-Geschäft gegen den Willen von Militär und Verteidigungsministerium durchgesetzt zu haben. © Photo: Abir Sultan / dpa Netanyahu is accused of having pushed through the submarine business against the will of the military and the Ministry of Defense.

Israel's grand coalition, predicted to have a short life from the start, may be on the verge of implosion. Defense minister and alternate prime minister Benny Gantz announced on Sunday that a commission would be set up under the aegis of his ministry to uncover corrupt entanglements surrounding the multi-billion dollar purchase of several boats from ThyssenKrupp. The explosive thing about it: Confidants of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are probably involved in the affair.

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This is what it's all about: In 2016, under Netanyahu's leadership, the Israeli government ordered three Dolphin-class submarines and four missile ships from ThyssenKrupp. As in previous armaments sales to Israel, the German government agreed to assume part of the costs for the submarines, which are estimated at around 1.5 billion euros.

Largest corruption case since the country was founded.

Ironically, the then Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon as well as high-ranking military officials had previously spoken out against the purchase, which they believed was unnecessary. However, their resistance came to nothing. In the spring of 2016, Netanyahu fired the stubborn minister and replaced him with the right-wing politician Avigdor Lieberman, who demonstrated the desired flexibility on the submarine issue.

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On Sunday, the Israeli police and the Israel Securities Authorities said there was sufficient evidence for bribery, fraud and breach-of-trust charges to be brought against Mr Netanyahu and his wife. Mr Elovitch has so far made no public comments on the issue.

But that was the beginning of the explosive story that Netanyahu has been following to this day and which many consider to be potentially the greatest corruption case since the country was founded. Shortly after the deal was closed, there were signs that some of his confidants had made a profitable and illegal business - possibly at the expense of national security.

Netanyahu's cousin suspects

One of the suspects is David Schimron, a cousin of Netanyahu who was acting as his personal attorney at the time. Schimron is said to have used his proximity to power and, together with Michael Ganor, who was then representative of ThyssenKrupp in Israel , bribed several leading figures in the military and politics to pave the way for the purchase. It is also investigating David Sharan, a former chief of staff of the Prime Minister's Office, and Avriel Bar-Yosef, a former deputy national security advisor; and against Elieser Marom, an ex-naval commander.

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Netanyahu himself, who faces three other alleged cases of breach of trust, fraud and corruption, is not considered a suspect in the submarine scandal. Still, the affair, known in Israel as "Case 3000", doesn't make him look good. Because it affects national security - and this is considered sacrosanct in the Jewish state.

Commission to investigate the affair

The fact that Gantz now wants to set up a commission to investigate the affair triggers an expected resentment in the camp of the prime minister. It is true that the commission has no legal authority. It can summon potential witnesses, but not force them to cooperate.

But the report that she is supposed to publish after four months could unearth something unpleasant for Netanyahu and in extreme cases even encourage the public prosecutor to re-investigate him. Netanyahu threatened on Thursday that if Gantz's centrist blue-white party does not switch to a cooperative course and "act as a government within a government," then "this will unfortunately lead to elections."

Speculation about new elections

Israeli analysts are already speculating about new elections For a long time almost every week. But this time the scenario seems more realistic than ever. Blau-Weiß and Likud are deeply divided, the latest conflict revolves around the adoption of a long overdue budget. That Gantz, as agreed in the coalition agreement, will take office next year of the Prime Minister of Netanyahu, almost no one believes in Israel anymore - apparently not even himself.

Gantz counted the convening of a commission to investigate the submarine affair among his campaign promises the project fall in order not to compromise the fragile coalition peace endure.

The fact that he has now put aside these scruples indicates that Gantz has lost all belief in a fruitful collaboration with Netanyahu. In the midst of the pandemic and economic crisis, the Israelis may soon face a new election. It would be the fourth in two years.

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This is interesting!