Nimr Jamal
Year 24
Month 06
Day 07
Corruption in Israel

Corruption scandals that rocked Israel


Imagine I’m describing a country you’ve never heard of: I tell you that every prime minister of this country in the last 20 years has at some point been under criminal investigation. Defense ministers were investigated and put on trial for corruption. Other top government officials have likewise been under suspicion.
This country is not imaginary. It’s Israel. 

These investigations fall to Lahav 433, an anti-corruption unit within the Israel Police that investigates both public officials and private citizens. Lahav 433 also fights organized crime.
Here are some of the big names who were questioned — and in some cases, convicted — over their business dealings:


Benjamin Netanyahu


Netanyahu has been the subject of criminal investigations before. In 1997, during his first term as Prime Minister, he was investigated for possible charges of fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu was accused of appointing an attorney general who would offer favorable treatment to a political ally. Police recommended charging Netanyahu, but prosecutors declined to file charges.

Two years later, Netanyahu was again investigated for fraud, this time for accusations involving a government contractor. Once again, he was not charged. Netanyahu denied any wrongdoing and promised he wasn't going anywhere, similar to the promises he's making today.

Now he is a suspect in three cases:
One case, known as Case 1000, involves allegations that he illegally accepted valuable gifts for himself and his family from business figures, notably Australian billionaire James Packer and Israeli Hollywood film producer Arnon Milchan.
The other, Case 2000, relates to conversations between the prime minister and the publisher of the Yedioth Aharonoth daily, Arnon Mozes, where Netanyahu allegedly offered to pursue legislation benefitting Mozes' news business in exchange for favorable news coverage for the prime minister. Mozes was questioned again on that case by police on Thursday.
The third, Netanyahu's confidant and attorney, David Shimron, was appointed to the board of a firm advising ThyssenKrupp, the German conglomerate that already sold six submarines to Israel which hopes to sell even more, despite the IDF's insistance that they are an unnecessary purchase.  
Netanyahu is personally involved in pushing to advance the deal where Israel would purchase three additional submarines for nearly 1.5 billion euros. Further inflaming the situation are long-standing accusations against ThyssenKrupp of employees having bribed foreign governmnent officials to secure contracts, including an incident specific to securing submarine contracts.


Ariel Sharon

Sharon was suspected of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in the late 1990s in what came to be known as the "Greek Island Affair." Prosecutors recommended bringing charges against him, but the attorney general felt there was insufficient evidence. The accusation involved Israeli businessman David Appel bribing Sharon, who was then serving as Foreign Minister, to help Appel win approval for a development in Greece.


Ehud Olmert

Ehud Olmert is serving a 19-month prison sentence for fraud and breach of trust in a scandal known as the "Holyland Affair." Olmert was convicted in 2012 of taking bribes related to a housing project in Jerusalem, where he served as mayor before becoming Prime Minister of Israel. Olmert was then convicted in 2015 of taking bribes in what is called the "Talansky Affair." American businessman Morris Talansky testified that he gave Olmert envelopes stuffed with cash.


Aryeh Deri

In his role as Interior Minister, Deri was convicted of taking bribes, fraud, and breach of public trust in 1999. The case dragged on through most of the 1990s. In the end, the court acquitted Deri of a second bribery charge and a charge that he falsified documents while serving in the Interior Ministry. Deri served a two-year sentence. After his release he re-entered politics and now once again serves as Interior Minister.


Avigdor Lieberman

Lieberman, who now serves as Israel's Defense Minister, has faced repeated questioning about his business dealings. He has been interrogated on suspicion of money laundering, fraud, and breach of trust in a long-running corruption probe that still resurfaces in the Israeli news. In late 2012, Lieberman was charged with breach of trust and fraud, but he did not face the more serious charges of money laundering and witness tampering. He was acquitted on all charges.

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