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Witness in ‘submarine probe’ says Netanyahu was asked to push deal: report

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony following the arrival of the INS Tanin, a Dolphin AIP class submarine, to a naval base in the northern city of Haifa, Israel, Tuesday, September 23, 2014
AP images/AMIR COHEN

A witness in the ongoing corruption investigation surrounding Israel’s purchase of submarines from a German shipbuilding conglomerate has reportedly testified that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked by his personal lawyer and cousin David Shimron to help advance the deal.

The new details of state witness Miki Ganor’s testimony were published by the Hebrew-language Yedioth Ahronoth daily on Tuesday. The report said that the new information could lead to Netanyahu being questioned in the probe for the first time, though the prime minister is still not considered a suspect in the case.

The investigation, known as “Case 3000” to differentiate it from two other corruption probes into Netanyahu and his associates, centers on whether the prime minister’s top confidants used their positions and relationships with Netanyahu to influence a decision to purchase three Dolphin submarines from ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition from the Israeli defense ministry.

Police suspect that Netanyahu’s longtime chief negotiator and personal envoy Isaac Molho tried to push the $2.3 billion deal during his diplomatic trips abroad, while Shimron, who represented ThyssenKrupp in Israel, sought to use his position to advance the firm's interests.

AP Photo/Ariel Schalit

On Friday, Hadashot TV said that Netanyahu would be summoned for general questioning in the case in the coming weeks, and possibly later as a suspect.

Ganor, ThyssenKrupp’s local representative in Israel who turned state witness in the case in July, testified that he had hired Shimron as his lawyer because of his connection to senior government officials and requested that he ask Netanyahu to advance the deal which was facing pushback by the Israeli defense ministry, Yedioth reported Tuesday.

Shimron has previously denied involving the prime minister in the affair, while Netanyahu dismissed the report as “another biased leak in an attempt to harm the prime minister.”

Germany and Israel signed a memorandum of understanding last month green-lighting the submarine purchases, with a caveat that the deal will be scrapped should corruption charges be proven at the end of the investigation.

Despite not being considered a suspect in the case, Netanyahu’s entanglement in two other corruption probes has sparked widespread anger which has manifested in weekly demonstrations across the country which have, at their peak, drawn hundreds of thousands of participants.

The two other probes involving Netanyahu center on the premier allegedly receiving luxury gifts from wealthy supporters and suspicions he sought a secret deal for favorable coverage with the publisher of top-selling daily Yedioth Aharonot.

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Leave Bibi alone. He is our hero like Paul Revere. He is an honest pure and is our greatest envoy and Statesman. Don't ruin God's blessing.

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