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Gantz calls for investigation of prime minister’s role in submarine scandal

Decision has the potential to threaten stability of unity government

Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in Tel Aviv on July 27, 2020. (Photo: Tal Shahar/POOL)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s decision to form a committee to investigate the role of the Prime Minister’s Office and other high ranking officials in an alleged graft scheme threatens the stability of the fragile unity government.

The “submarine affair,” involves allegations that Israeli officials received kickbacks in the purchase of naval vessels from the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long opposed forming an inquiry into the scandal dating back to 2009.

Though he himself has denied any wrongdoing, close associates of Netanyahu's and high-ranking military officials have been indicted among suspicions that those involved got kickbacks from the sales.

Gantz, head of the Blue and White party, has voted against previous bills to order an investigation. He announced his decision to open a four-mont investigation on Sunday.

“In light of these consultations and current information to which he is privy, Gantz has come to the conclusion that a formal inquiry by a Defense Ministry commission will be able to shed light on some of the processes that led to the procurement of submarines and patrol boats, looking at the procedures and contracting execution,” his office said in a statement.

The prime minister’s Likud members are furious with Gantz — a coalition partner — for opening the investigation.

“Gantz’s decision to set up a commission of inquiry into the submarines is nothing less than an act of defiance against Likud and its leader,” Likud member Miki Zohar said. “Although Gantz is well aware that Netanyahu has no hand in the story of the submarines, he is working to discredit him while risking the integrity of the coalition.

“Today we received further proof that Gantz is forcibly dragging Israel to elections in the midst of a global crisis. I am sorry that instead of assisting the prime minister in his efforts to bring vaccines to the citizens of Israel, Gantz is trying to regain the seats of some of Netanyahu’s haters.”

According to Israel's Channel 13, Gantz told Blue and White ministers this morning: “The next two weeks are going to be dramatic.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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