Netanyahu probe widens , shakes Israel’s political scene

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli police have widened a probe into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already under investigation in a graft case that has shaken the country’s politics, media reports said.

Police are now looking into two other matters related to Netanyahu, Channel 10 television reported on Monday night.

One of the matters appears to involve a deal for Israel to purchase German submarines, while the second affair remained unclear, according to the reports.

It was unclear whether the new probes were preliminary enquiries or if they had been elevated to fully fledged investigations.

Police declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

Netanyahu’s cousin, family lawyer and confidant David Shimron
Netanyahu’s cousin, family lawyer and confidant David Shimron represented ThyssenKrupp’s Israeli agent. The Lebanese connection in the submarine deal was described as a huge scandal in Israel

Netanyahu’s cousin, family lawyer and confidant David Shimron has reportedly been involved in the deal to purchase Dolphin submarines from Germany’s ThyssenKrupp.

Media reports have alleged a conflict of interest over the role played by Shimron, who has also represented ThyssenKrupp’s Israeli agent.

If confirmed, the reports would add to a list of legal troubles already facing Netanyahu.

The premier is already under investigation over suspicions of unlawfully receiving gifts from wealthy supporters.

A parallel investigation is examining whether the Israeli premier cut a secret deal with Arnon Moses, publisher of Israel’s top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot, in which Netanyahu would get positive coverage in return for helping reduce Yediot’s competition, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom.

Netanyahu has flatly denied any wrongdoing, accusing Israeli media of “pursuing an unprecedented campaign against me in order to bring down (my) Likud government” by publishing leaks from the investigations.

“The campaign is aimed at putting pressure on the attorney general so that he would convict me,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu has been questioned by police twice in recent weeks in the gifts investigation.

The probe has shaken the country’s political scene and raised questions over whether Netanyahu, 67 and in his fourth term as prime minister, would eventually be forced to resign.