The prime minister admits that he approved the sale of submarines to Egypt without telling his defense minister, but defends the move in a rare television interview.
By World Israel News Staff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on Israeli television on Saturday night and denied receiving any personal financial gain from transactions involving German submarines.
In a Channel 12 interview, the prime minister did acknowledge approving the sale of submarines to Egypt without consulting his defense minister and military chief of staff. Netanyahu insisted that there are times that state secrets require a prime minister to make such decisions even without the knowledge of leaders of the defense establishment.
His defense minister at the time was Moshe Ya’alon, who is currently one of the top candidates on the Blue and White list, which according to public opinion polls poses the greatest threat to Netanyahu and his Likud party in the April 9 Knesset election.
Ya’alon has backtracked from seeming to accuse the prime minister of treason and has clarified that the case “smells of treason” because of the security threat that the former defense minister argues was involved in allowing Egypt to acquire the submarines.
In the television interview, Netanyahu said that Blue and White is itself “endangering the security of the State of Israel” through its “campaign of lies” against him. Netanyahu also used the term “blood libel” to describe the accusations against him.
On Friday, Netanyahu said that he would sue Blue and White leaders for libel.
The accusations against the prime minister regarding the submarine sale to Egypt are part of a larger investigation involving the Israeli purchase of submarines from the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp.
In the past, Netanyahu held shares in an American company indirectly connected to ThyssenKrupp. Some of the prime minister’s closest advisers have been implicated in the affair of alleged conflict of interest, but Netanyahu was said not to be a suspect.
Blue and White has been highlighting recent reports of new information that is said to have emerged connecting the prime minister more directly to this case. The attorney general, according to the reports, has relaunched a review of any possible wrongdoing by Netanyahu.
His appearance on Channel 12 marked a rare occasion in which Netanyahu has been interviewed in the Israeli media. A news anchor said word that the prime minister wished to be interviewed came on short notice and as a surprise.
It also came just a few hours before the prime minister set out for the U.S., where he is to meet with President Donald Trump.
The president is expected to sign a proclamation recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a move that Netanyahu is hoping will help promote his election campaign theme of dramatic diplomatic achievements and serve to advance his argument that his opponents and the media are guilty of a smear campaign aimed at removing him from office.