Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lashed out publicly against the police as corruption investigations against him gather pace.
In a surprising intervention over the weekend, Mr Netanyahu blamed the police commissioner of allowing illegal leaks from the investigation.
He said a “transparent witch-hunt” was being carried out against him and that a spin-doctor hired by Roni Alsheikh, the National Police Commissioner, is behind a “tsunami of illegal leaks” directed against him.
Mr Netanyahu is due to be questioned for a third time in connection to two investigations in which he is a main suspect: the alleged receipt of expensive gifts from wealthy businesspeople and claims of collusion with newspaper publishers in an attempt to secure more favourable coverage.
He is also expected to be questioned on the “submarines” investigation, in which a number of senior military officials and political advisors – including his private attorney of four decades – are suspected of having received bribes in return for the purchase of warships for the Israeli Navy from a German shipyard.
The prime minister denies any knowledge of these matters and is not at present an official suspect in the third case.
Mr Alsheikh – a former deputy chief of the Shin Bet domestic intelligence service who became chief of the Israeli police two years ago with Mr Netanyahu’s approval – is understood to have initially been reluctant to investigate the prime minister. But as the evidence accumulated in recent months, he has given increasing support to the investigators involved.
Sources in Likud, Mr Netanyahu’s governing party, say that the prime minister has accused the commissioner of facilitating leaks to the media in an effort to establish his “witch hunt” narrative and rally his supporters before an impending indictment.