Chief of Police Roni Alsheikh on Wednesday night gave a stirring interview to journalist Ilana Dayan, host of Channel 2’s Uvda investigative program, insisting that he is far from being in the pocket of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under several police investigations, and that “when the summaries of the investigations are published, I assume ‘someone’ will be surprised.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu, for his part, is accusing his handpicked commissioner of lying and demands an investigation of the latter’s accusations that he, Netanyahu, was essentially guilty of obstructing justice. The Netanyahu vs. Alsheikh controversy is beginning to resemble the Trump vs. Mueller controversy, suggesting that in the 21st century, history doesn’t just repeat itself, it’s duplicating.
On Wednesday, the right-leaning Mida ran a story suggesting the Police are moving fast to announce their recommendations on indictments against Netanyahu, before the High Court of Justice moves to bar them from doing so.
According to Mida, a petition filed Wednesday morning with the Supreme Court by American-born attorney Yossi Fuchs, is seeking an interim injunction to prevent the police from announcing its recommendations on its investigations of the prime minister.
In what has to be an attempt to thwart Commissioner Alsheikh’s ability to disable Netanyahu’s career, Fuchs asked for the injunction because his own earlier petition is already under way at the High Court of Justice, demanding the annulment of the practice of police submitting their recommendations altogether.
Justice Uri Shoham had ordered the state to respond to the petition by February 15, but news reports are suggesting the police will submit their recommendations on the Netanyahu cases next week. In other words, the police are planning an end run around the petition by issuing their recommendations ahead of its hearing.
Fuchs accused the police commissioner of plotting a “grab tantamount to contempt of court.” But Fuchs’s original petition is quite a grab in itself, seeing as he was asking the High Court of Justice to bar the police from making its recommendations to the State Prosecutor, ignoring the fact that the Knesset had just enacted a law on this very issue that grandfathered the police’s right to submit recommendations on its investigations that preceded the new law.
On Uvda Wednesday night, Commissioner Alsheikh stabbed the PM in the back, but did it with so much love he came across righteous.
“I do not work for Netanyahu,” he said in the interview, “admitting” that Netanyahu’s attitude towards him is no longer as warm as it was two years ago, when he was appointed to the post, plucked away from a very different career as second in command at the Shabak clandestine police.
“I think it’s pretty clear there’s been a change in attitude,” he said about the PM. “I also don’t judge him for it, I think it’s natural, after all, in the end, it is not me who is being interrogated, it’s him. I don’t want to be judgmental, in the end, this is a difficult, unpleasant situation. Being interrogated is a very unpleasant situation.”
So much empathy. If Israel exercised its death penalty, I’ll bet all the convicts would want Roni Alsheikh to be their hangman…
The commissioner was not quite as loving when it came to his implied assertions about the PM’s pushback against the police. He suggested his investigators had been investigated by hired investigators, who followed them around, interviewed their neighbors, did what a PI does to smear a target. One example of what Alsheikh believes was such a pushback effort resulted in the resignation of Roni Ritman, commander of Lahav 433, the renowned and feared major cases police unit, who was accused two years ago by a female officer of sexual harassment.
Alsheikh backed Ritman all the way, until the High Court of Justice ordered him to reprimand his underling, which he regrets. He still does not believe the female officer’s story. But he definitely views the rehashing of the complaint against Ritman as part of the effort to slow down the Netanyahu investigations.
A beleaguered Netanyahu late Wednesday night posted on his Facebook page that “it is shocking to discover that the commissioner repeats the false suggestion that Prime Minister Netanyahu has sent private investigators against police officers who are interrogating him.
“It is shocking to discover that he also repeated to journalists the equally false hint of Ritman, as if the prime minister had been involved in the complaint of the police officer against Ritman for sexual harassment.
“How is it possible that Ritman would head the unit that investigates the prime minister and then would participate personally in formulating the recommendations against him?
“Any decent person will ask himself how people who say such delusional things about the prime minister can objectively investigate him and make impartial recommendations?
“A great shadow was cast this evening on police investigations and recommendations in the case of Prime Minister Netanyahu.
“The hints of the police commissioner are so grave that an objective investigation is required immediately on the argument that the prime minister sent investigators — and once it becomes clear that there is no such connection, we must draw the necessary conclusions regarding the conduct of the investigation and the formulation of the recommendations against the Prime Minister.”
All we need now are competing memos from the Knesset coalition and opposition parties to make this the mirror image of the scandal over in Washington, DC.