Defending Democracy

7 July 2021

Israeli Police’s Internal Investigations Department is investigating allegations that members of the Likud Central Committee and rabbis close to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were involved in the appointment of Kobi Shabtai as police commissioner in January of 2021. The investigation follows a complaint to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit by Uri Zaki, the founder of NIF grantee Front for the Protection of Democracy.

Zaki told Radio 103FM, “We remember exactly who was Minister of Internal Security back then [Eli Ohana – Likud] and we remember that we are talking about a prime minister who was looking for a police commissioner who would be convenient for him when he was standing trial after he had apparently failed with Alsheikh [who served as police commissioner from 2015-2018].”

“It’s astonishing that some of the people involved were not relevant at all to the appointment process for a police chief. After our request to the Attorney General, we did not receive the usual answer of ‘we have examined matters’ — and that is a very encouraging thing.”

“If we are indeed talking about political intervention, I think that it is a severe blow to public trust in the government and political interference with the holy of holies of law enforcement. Such a thing cannot be allowed to happen.”

Zaki identified that there was a very serious possibility of Likud corruption: “We perhaps don’t appreciate the severity of these matters. Members of the central committee of the [then-]ruling party [Likud] have been involved in the appointment of the police chief for many years. Meetings with a police officer in uniform who is running for police chief while the Minister of Internal Security is looking for somebody who is suitable for them – It’s a very serious thing.”