Israel’s ‘Deep State’ Targets Netanyahu with Bogus Charges

The Israeli police investigation against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows remarkable similarities with the Special Counsel probe against President Donald Trump in the United States.

During the prime time news broadcasts Tuesday evening in Israel, the dramatic news was announced that Israel Police investigators are recommending that Israel’s Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery and breach of trust charges in two investigations.

The news raises a number of obvious questions about Netanyahu’s political future. But it also raises an equal, if not greater, number of questions about the purity of the police service’s intentions and its trustworthiness.

Let us begin by considering the specific cases that form the bases of police recommendations against Netanyahu.

The first investigation has been dubbed Investigation 1000 by the Police’s main criminal investigations unit, Lahav 433. The investigation surrounds the relationship between Netanyahu and his old friend, Israeli businessman and Hollywood movie producer Arnon Milchen. The police have recommended that Milchen be indicted for paying bribes to Netanyahu. The police recommend indicting Netanyahu for taking bribes from Milchen and acting illegally on his behalf.

According to Israel’s Hadashot television news, this investigation was the top story in terms of volume of coverage during 2017.

The police allege that between 2007 and 2016, Milchen showered Netanyahu and his wife Sara with cigars, champagne, and jewelry, often purchased at their request. In 2014, Milchen’s business partner, Australian businessman James Packer, who was also a friend of Netanyahu and his family, allegedly began giving similar gifts to the Netanyahu family.

In exchange for those gifts, the police allege that Netanyahu supported extending a law passed in 2008, when Netanyahu was the head of the parliamentary opposition, that gave returning Israeli expatriates tax forgiveness for ten years of unpaid back taxes. That is, Israeli expatriates were not liable for Israeli income tax for their global income earned over the decade before they returned to Israel.

According to the police, after Netanyahu returned to office in 2009, Milchen lobbied Netanyahu’s finance minister at the time, Yair Lapid, to extend the tax forgiveness period. Lapid, who is now in the opposition, heads the center-left Yesh Atid party. If Netanyahu’s Likud party fails to win the next election, according to the polls, Lapid and his Yesh Atid party will form the next government.

In other words, today, Lapid is Netanyahu’s chief political rival.

On Tuesday, the police told reporters that Lapid is the key witness against Netanyahu in Investigation 1000.

In other words, Netanyahu’s chief political rival is the key witness against him.

Lapid reportedly told investigators that Netanyahu asked him twice to advance Milchen’s request to extend the period of tax forgiveness to returning expatriates beyond the ten years granted by the law. Lapid and the finance ministry opposed Milchen’s proposal, and his initiative went nowhere.

Netanyahu also allegedly intervened on behalf of Milchen in two proposed deals related to Israeli television stations that Milchen either owned or wished to own.

But then, neither of his proposed interventions, if they occurred, were successful.

The police report that Netanyahu intervened on Milchen’s behalf when the latter was experiencing difficulty renewing his residency visa in the U.S. Netanyahu called then-Secretary of State John Kerry and asked him to intervene on Milchen’s behalf to renew his residency visa.

Since Milchen stood to lose a significant amount of money if he was unable to remain in the U.S., the police claim that Netanyahu’s intervention on his behalf with Kerry represented the return on Milchen’s gifts.

Milchen himself has a long record of service to Israel’s Mossad — its foreign spy service — and reportedly has contributed significantly to Israel’s defense. Netanyahu claims that he acted out of respect for Milchen’s long service to Israel’s security. In addition,, Israel’s late president and prime minister, left-wing icon Shimon Peres, also intervened on Milchen’s behalf with U.S. authorities.

In the second probe, dubbed Investigation 2000, the police recommend indicting Netanyahu following a discussion he held – and recorded surreptitiously – in 2014 with Arnon Mozes, the publisher and controlling owner of Israel’s mass circulation daily, Yediot Ahronot. The police found the recorded conversation on the mobile phone of Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow, who is the subject of a separate and unrelated influence-peddling probe. Netanyahu claims he recorded their conversation on the advice of his attorney because he was afraid that Mozes would try to extort him.

The police claim that the conversation is proof that Mozes offered Netanyahu a bribe and that Netanyahu accepted the offer. They recommend charging Mozes with bribing Netanyahu, and charging Netanyahu with accepting a bribe from Mozes.

The odd thing about this claim is that no deal was struck. To the contrary.

Mozes is Netanyahu’s nemesis. Yediot Ahronot is the most influential newspaper in Israel. Its front page dictates the daily news programming for radio and television broadcasts. And Yediot Ahronot‘s coverage of Netanyahu is implacably hostile to the premier and to his family. To a lesser but significant degree, Yediot Ahronot is also deeply hostile to the Israeli political right.

According to the recording of the men’s conversation, which was leaked to the media by the police more than a year ago, Netanyahu and Mozes discussed an elaborate scheme to change the newspaper market in Israel in Yediot Ahronot‘s favor.

Israel’s largest circulation paper is Israel Hayom, a free tabloid that is owned by conservative American billionaire — and Netanyahu supporter — Sheldon Adelson. In their recorded conversation, Mozes raised the possibility of Netanyahu curtailing government advertising in Israel Hayom and working to cut back its circulation in order to increase Yediot Ahronot‘s market share.

In exchange, Mozes offered to scale back the negative tone of his paper’s coverage of Netanyahu.

In the event, nothing came of the conversation. Indeed, in late 2014, against Netanyahu’s expressed wishes, then-justice minister Tzipi Livni put forward a controversial media bill, which was based on a legal opinion written by Yediot Ahronot‘s legal advisor. The bill, which was dubbed the “Israel Hayom law,” would have forced the shutdown of the paper by barring its owners from not charging money for it.

The law passed a preliminary reading in the Knesset with 43 votes. Netanyahu and his Likud Party voted against the bill. Moreover, to prevent the bill from going forward, Netanyahu disbanded his government and the Knesset and called new elections a bit more than a year into his term.

In other words, to prevent any harm to Israel Hayom – and transitively, to prevent any advantage from being accrued to Yediot Ahronot — Netanyahu took the radical step of standing for election again.

For more than a year, the police refused to investigate any of the 43 lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill, or to analyze the coverage they received in Yediot Ahronot in following their support. Three weeks ago, the bill’s sponsor, Labor Party member of Knesset Eitan Cabel — who enjoyed extraordinary coverage in the paper — was brought in for a brief interview.

In other words, the police are recommending that Netanyahu be indicted for a conversation that went nowhere, which he recorded. And the police are not investigating 42 out of the 43 lawmakers that supported a move that would have given Mozes everything he asked Netanyahu for, but didn’t receive, while the 43rd lawmaker was subject merely to a brief interrogation.

This brings us to the police.

Since Netanyahu served his first term as prime minister from 1996 until 1999, he and his wife Sara have been the subjects of 19 police probes and or investigations. The Hebrew language website has published a review of all of them earlier this month.

The police recommended indicting the Netanyahus in three probes in 1999. The attorney general rejected their requests.

In January 2017, the attorney general closed four probes of Netanyahu that had been ongoing since 2009.

In September 2017, the attorney general closed six police probes against Sara Netanyahu, which the police had opened in 2015. One probe, relating to an administrative, rather than criminal, charge that Mrs. Netanyahu ordered food from restaurants instead of using the services of the cook at the prime minister’s residence, is still under review.

Two other probes, related to accusations that a French businessman gave Netanyahu illegal campaign contributions, and that the Likud overpaid a secretary in the U.S., disappeared after leading the headlines for several news cycles in 2016.

Of the three open cases, the Milchen and Mozes investigations led to Tuesday night’s announcement of the police’s recommendations. A third investigation, of influence-peddling related to Israel’s purchase of submarines from Germany, is unrelated to Netanyahu, but since his associates are under investigation, his name was dragged into the discourse related to the probe.

The endless stream of criminal investigations against Netanyahu has involved investigating witnesses across the globe, and has cost tens of millions of shekels to Israeli taxpayers.

At the end of this long, 22-year road, what we have are just two charges — which, if anything, show that Netanyahu is probably most worthless bribe-taker in history. Aside from assistance with his residency visa in the U.S., Netanyahu provided Milchen with no meaningful support in any of his endeavors. The one piece of legislation that passed, the law that entitles returning Israeli expatriates with ten years of debt forgiveness, passed when Netanyahu was out of office.

Over the past eight years of Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister, none of Milchen’s proposals in either the media market or tax laws was advanced even slightly.

As for Investigation 2000, it is almost impossible to understand the basis for the charge against Netanyahu. Mozes apparently offered him a bribe, in the form of diminished hostility in his newspaper in exchange for a larger market share for Yediot Ahronot. But Netanyahu did nothing to advance his offer. To the contrary, he preferred new elections to curtailing Israel Hayom‘s operation.

Over the past year, as the police investigations dragged on, investigators fed the media with a never-ending stream of negative leaks that all disparaged and vilified Netanyahu.

The police campaign against Netanyahu reached its peak last Wednesday night. Police Commissioner Roni Alscheich, whom Netanyahu appointed in 2015, gave an hour-long interview on Israel’s leading television magazine Uvda, or “Fact.”

Alscheich claimed that Netanyahu was behind three separate, arguably felonious conspiracies against the police. Netanyahu, he alleged, had arranged for private detectives to “sniff around” the families of his investigators to try to find dirt on them.

Netanyahu, he claimed, conspired with a female police officer who in 2011 brought sexual harassment charges against her commander, Police Superintendent Roni Reitman, the head of Lahav 433, the unit responsible for investigating Netanyahu. Alsheich claimed that Netanyahu was behind the police officer’s decision to petition Israel’s Supreme Court against Reitman after the Attorney General chose to close the investigation against him without indicting him in 2015, due to the passage of time since his alleged acts of harassment took place.

Alsheich also claimed that Netanyahu had offered himself a sort of bribe. The Commission of Police alleged that when Netanyahu appointed him to serve as police chief, Netanyahu knew that Alsheich really wanted to serve as Director of the Israel Security Agency, where he was serving as deputy director when Netanyahu asked him to take over the police. Netanyahu, Alsheich alleged, told him that if Netanyahu was still prime minister when Alsheich finished his tour of duty, Netanyahu would appoint him the head of the Israel Security Agency.

Even the police’s most fervent media supporters were aghast at Alsheich’s allegations – coupled with the fact that he has refused to investigate any of them. To summarize: just as the police were set to announce their recommendations, Alsheich made clear that he has a personal vendetta against Netanyahu and is prepared to overthrow his government.

Alsheich’s wild charges that Netanyahu was actively conspiring against his investigators gave credence to the allegations of bias, verging on animus, leveled against the police by Netanyahu and his supporters.

And so the parallels between the indictment of Netanyahu and the witch hunt against President Trump are remarkable. But there is a key distinction.

The U.S. is governed by a constitution that places checks and balances on the executive that extend to the permanent bureaucracy. In Israel, there are no constitutional checks on the bureaucracy. The Knesset cannot compel civil servants to appear before its committees. It cannot force civil servants to testify under oath. It cannot hold them in contempt.

After his scandalous interview last week, Likud Party lawmakers requested that Alsheich come before the relevant committee and explain his charges against Netanyahu. Although he tentatively agreed to appear this week, on Tuesday night, reporters said that Alsheich has no intention of appearing before lawmakers to answer their questions.

Some commentators claimed on Tuesday night that the police deliberately threw every possible charge at Netanyahu to pressure the Attorney General into indicting him for something. The bias against Netanyahu that Alsheich revealed so extravagantly in his interview last Wednesday night, and the thousands of hours and tens of millions of shekels that the police have invested over the past 22 years in their endless pursuit of Netanyahu and his family, now stand in the balance.

If Netanyahu is cleared — and given the weakness of the charges against him, it’s hard to see how he can be indicted — then the police will lose their credibility and the public trust.

Then again, given that Israel’s elected officials have no oversight over the civil service, it could be that Alsheich and his officers don’t care.

Originally Published in Breitbart.

Alsheich – Israel’s Grand Inquisitor

Wednesday night was an eye opener for many Israelis.

On Wednesday night Israelis received yet another demonstration of the country’s desperate need for legal reform.

The media in Israel – like their counterparts in the US – tout themselves as democracy’s watchdogs. But on Wednesday night, we saw once again that our fiercest journalists are actually the lapdogs of our unelected legal fraternity, whose members share their hatred for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their general attachment to the ideological Left.

Wednesday night’s primetime news broadcasts all opened with the sensational news that the police’s top investigators from the Lahav 433 unit – Israel’s equivalent of the FBI – were sitting at that very moment with Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich to decide what crimes to recommend Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit indict Netanyahu for.

According to police leakers, their intention is to recommend that Mandelblit indict Netanyahu for at least one count of bribery.

Netanyahu allegedly helped his old friend Hollywood movie mogul Arnon Milchen renew his US visa. Over the years, Milchen allegedly showered Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, with cigars and champagne.

An hour after the news broadcasts all ended, Israel’s flagship investigative news magazine Uvda broadcast a slickly edited, hour-long interview its anchor, Ilana Dayan, conducted over several weeks with Alsheich.

To be clear, Dayan’s interview wasn’t a complete love-fest. She asked Alsheich several biting questions. But overall, Dayan did everything she could to present Alsheich as a hero, a self-made man and all all-around awesome guy.

Dayan devoted a long portion of her interview to Alsheich’s tragic loss of his beloved mother when he was 14. Barely holding back his tears, Alsheich told Dayan that he decided not to let his loss hold him back, and then humbly bragged that he basically raised himself after she passed away.

Dayan spent another long sequence of her interview with Alsheich discussing his role as a Shin Bet interrogator in the tragic Nachshon Wachsman affair.

In 1994, Hamas terrorists kidnapped IDF Cpl. Nachshon Wachsman, a paratrooper hitching a ride on the side of the highway in central Israel.

At the time, Alsheich was a Shin Bet investigator. It turns out that he was the officer who interrogated the Wachsman’s kidnappers’ accomplices. Through them, the Shin Bet located the house near Ramallah where Wachsman was being held, and learned the conditions of his confinement.

Then-prime minister and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-IDF chief of General Staff Ehud Barak ordered the IDF’s elite reconnaissance unit Sayeret Matkal to storm the house and rescue Wachsman. The rescue attempt failed, Wachsman was murdered and one of his rescuers, Capt. Nir Poraz, was killed in the raid. The Wachsman episode was a national tragedy that traumatized the entire country.

By placing Alsheich at the center of the drama, and superimposing video images of Rabin on her conversation with Alsheich, Dayan presented Alsheich as the unsung hero of the national tragedy. In so doing, she effectively rendered him untouchable.

Once she built Alsheich up as a hero, she shifted her attention to the Netanyahu probes. And when Alsheich began to speak, you understood why he needed the buildup.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Alsheich sounded like a tin foil hat conspiracy theorist when he started talking about his probes of the prime minister.

Alsheich presented Dayan with four separate criminal conspiracies, all of which he either directly or indirectly claimed are Netanyahu’s handiwork. It is important to note that each of the conspiracies he alleged involve crimes far graver than accepting too many cigars from an old friend. And none of them is currently being investigated.

The first conspiracy theory he presented as fact was his claim that Netanyahu arranged for private detectives to gather dirt on the police officers investigating him.

Alsheich said that “very powerful forces” hired private detectives who “were wandering around the investigators” and “sniffing about.”
He then said that Dayan was “correct” when she asked if the targeted officers were involved in the Netanyahu probe.

The second conspiracy Alsheich attested to surrounds a female police officer referred to as “Z.” In 2011, Z. filed a sexual harassment complaint against Police Ch.-Sup. Roni Reitman, commander of Lahav 433. Z. alleged that Reitman sexually harassed her on three occasions. There were witnesses to two of the alleged incidents. The police’s internal affairs unit administered lie detector tests for Z. and Reitman. She passed hers. He failed his. The investigators recommended indicting Reitman.

After sitting on the file for four years, in 2015 then-attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein closed the case, citing the long period that had passed since the alleged harassment took place.

Alsheich responded to Weinstein’s decision by immediately instating Reitman as the commander of Lahav 433.
At the urging of her commander, in 2016 Z. petitioned the High Court of Justice and asked the justices to order Alsheich to fire Reitman. Last year, the court ruled in Z.’s favor and gave Alsheich 60 days to fire Reitman.

Alsheich responded to Z’s petition to the court by referring to her as a “criminal.” He opened a disciplinary tribunal against Z. and her commander, claiming they spent too much time together.

Reitman’s lawyers alleged Netanyahu put Z. up to submitting the petition in a plot to force Reitman off his case. Alsheich has repeatedly expressed his agreement with Reitman’s allegation.

In his interview with Dayan, Alsheich said, “I want Reitman’s claims to be investigated.”

Attorney Chai Bar-El who represents Z. responded cynically to Alsheich’s and Reitman’s conspiracy claim in an interview last month with Mida online magazine.

“It’s good that Alsheich’s conspiracy didn’t start in 2011, and that he isn’t claiming that Z. was sent ‘to seduce’ Reitman so that [Netanyahu] would have a card in his future investigations,” Bar-El said.

The third Netanyahu conspiracy Alsheich alleged in his interview with Dayan is that Netanyahu is spreading false rumors about tensions in Alsheich’s relationship with Mandelblit in order to intimidate police investigators.

A few weeks ago, Reshet news (on Channel 13) reported that Mandelblit told his associates that if Netanyahu is tried and found innocent, his acquittal will destroy the legal system. When Dayan asked Alsheich about the report, Alsheich insisted it was false and introduced his third conspiracy.

“Maybe someone wanted the investigators to think that this is what Mandelblit said,” he said.

Dayan responded with amazement, “Did Netanyahu engineer this also?”

Alsheich answered coyly, “Did I say Netanyahu?”

Alsheich’s final conspiracy is his allegation that Netanyahu effectively offered him a bribe when he appointed him police commissioner.

Alsheich was serving as deputy director of the Shin Bet when Netanyahu appointed him police chief in 2015. Alsheich had made no secret of his desire to be promoted to Shin Bet director. Alsheich told Dayan that Netanyahu told him upon his appointment that he would appoint him Shin Bet director if he is still prime minister when Alsheich finishes his tour of duty at the police.

In response to Alsheich’s interview, Netanyahu reinstated his frequent demand that Alsheich’s allegations be investigated. Netanyahu noted that with investigators convinced that he is the functional equivalent of a mafia boss, there is no way he can expect to receive fair treatment.

And again, every one of Alsheich’s alleged conspiracies is on its face an exponentially more serious offense than accepting a bunch of cigars and champagne from an old buddy.

Dayan asked Alsheich why he isn’t investigating his own allegations. Alsheich answered dismissively that an investigation “doesn’t serve the current interests of our central probe.”

Alsheich made the even more bizarre claim that the conspiracies are nothing to worry about, because simply by exposing them to the public, he put a stop to them.

This assertion is particularly distressing because it exposes the police chief’s profound ignorance of the basic precepts of law enforcement.

If Alsheich were able to stop a gang of bank robbers from committing further bank heists by going public with their operation, would that mean that he should let them off the hook for their previous robberies?

THE POLICE INVESTIGATIONS of Netanyahu bear an extraordinary resemblance to the US special counsel’s probe of allegations that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential elections. But there is one major difference. In Israel there is no equivalent to congressional oversight of the executive branch.

Last weekend, the US experienced a public and constitutional earthquake with the publication of the so-called Nunes memo. The memo summarizes the findings of the House Select Committee on Intelligence’s probe of senior FBI and Justice Department officials’ apparent abuse of their power in pursuit of a surveillance warrant against a campaign adviser to then candidate Donald Trump.

It showed that those top officials hid from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges the fact that the basis for their surveillance request was a dossier prepared by the private investigations firm Fusion GPS that was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

The Nunes memo is an earthquake because it showed that the top echelons of the American law enforcement community committed a grave breach of trust and undermined basic democratic norms. The information that has come to light during the course of the congressional probes makes clear these top officials were motivated to act as they did by their partisan convictions and deep-seated animus toward Trump and his supporters.

FROM AN Israeli perspective, the most extraordinary aspect of the Intelligence Committee probe and the parallel probes being conducted by other House and Senate committees is that they are taking place at all.

The US Constitution provides for freedom of the press, understanding the key role a free press is capable of playing in a democracy. But the constitution empowers Congress with oversight powers over the executive branch.

In Israel the Knesset holds no such power. Likud lawmakers have no oversight power. They cannot force Alsheich to explain the basis for his claims that Netanyahu put Z. up to petitioning the High Court. They cannot make him support his claim that Netanyahu hired private detectives to spy on his investigators. They cannot investigate the hemorrhage of leaks from police investigators that deny Netanyahu the basic rights of criminal suspects and the presumption of innocence.

They cannot subpoena police communications to discover the motive for Lahav 433’s decision to investigate Netanyahu and not investigate other politicians against whom far weightier allegations have been leveled.

Wednesday night was an eye opener for many Israelis who saw for the first time Alsheich’s conspiratorial obsession with Netanyahu.

But in the absence of a major overhaul of the legal system in a manner that provides the Knesset with the tools to oversee the executive branch and the judiciary, nothing will be done to remedy the situation, and the future of Israel’s democratic system will continue to rely on the goodwill of our unelected, unaccountable attorney-general.

Originally Published on JPost

Israel Behind the News [Dec 13, 2015]

Arab MKs Lead Populism that is Disconnected from Reality

MK Odeh is representative of a broader problem in Israel.  Arab leaders claim their people are discriminated against and at the same time enjoy rights and privileges they cannot get elsewhere. One has to understand that discrimination in Arab culture means that another culture is in control. This means by Western standards there is no real discrimination, but an issue of honor.  Whatever the case, Israel is plagued by Arab leaders that spit in the face of the very State that gives full rights and opportunities.

Arab Jihadist Indicted

Raed Khalil has been indicted for murdering two Jews while they were praying in Tel Aviv last month  Of course this this Arab Jihadist will be put away for as long as it takes to carry out a further prisoner swap.  Even if he rots in jail, he’ll have a far cozier time in prison than some of the Jewish administrative detainees that have been placed there with no charges. The Israeli security apparatus is in dire need of repairs.  Thankfully, many of the young people serving in it are doing their best to foil and push back on Jihadist terrorism.

New Police Chief Sets a Different Tone

The new police chief is a serous guy and the first religious Zionist one.  Make no mistake, his trip to gush Etzion is a message that he is approaching his role far differently than his corrupt predecessors. The Left is truly running scared that one of their last bastions of control will finally be cleaned out.