The government has established a state commission of inquiry into the submarines affair

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by Ifi Reporter Category:Government Jan 23, 2022

More than five years after suspicions of corruption in the purchase of submarines from Germany were first revealed, the government approved on Sunday at its weekly meeting the establishment of a state commission of inquiry into the affair. The committee, chaired by a judge, will be empowered to investigate the decision-making processes of the political echelon in relation to procurement processes and vessel transactions, as well as the involvement of former security officers and senior officials as intermediaries in large security transactions.

Prime Minister Bennett said at the beginning of the cabinet meeting that today the decision to establish a committee of inquiry into the submarine affair will be put to the vote. It is important for me to tell all the citizens of Israel. The defense procurement processes in this government are free from foreign considerations. The only compass of us all is the security of the State of Israel. Last week they signed a procurement of three submarines. This is an extremely important action for the security of the country, decades ahead, after a severe delay of years. And this is what is important - to ensure the continuity of the strategic capabilities of the State of Israel.

The proposal, promoted by Defense Minister Bnei Gantz with the support of Deputy Prime Minister Yair Lapid, is expected to win the support of a clear majority of cabinet ministers, with the exception of Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who has already stated her opposition. Tends to abstain from voting. New Tikva chairman Gideon Saar has announced that he will give freedom of vote to party ministers. Saar himself intends to support the proposal, but his party member Housing Minister Zeev Elkin is considering opposing or abstaining.
Gantz has been trying since the first week of the government's formation to establish a state commission of inquiry into the submarine affair, which was first exposed by Raviv Drucker in November 2016. For many months the move was delayed in light of the right-wing faction's principled opposition. During this time, members of the Movement for Quality of Government, accompanied by a group of former security officials, held numerous meetings with senior government officials, including Justice Minister Gideon Saar and Prime Minister Bennett, and put pressure on the commission to investigate and dissolve objections. The group also met with the prime minister, who conditioned the transfer of the decision to a government hearing on the completion of the submarine deal with Germany. On Thursday, the deal was signed and Bennett withdrew his opposition to advancing the decision on the commission of inquiry.
Ahead of the vote, Gantz held a Zoom meeting last night with the security forum of the Movement for Quality of Government, which consists of former senior members of the defense establishment such as former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, former GSS chief Carmi Gilon, defense minister and former chief of staff Moshe (Boogie) Ya'alon, chief of staff Former Lt. Col. (Res.) Dan Halutz and other generals in Res., Who pushed for the establishment of the commission of inquiry. "My goal is to maintain national security and for me, the work of such a committee will bring the truth and the findings, and will be clear as a result of not playing with security," he added, adding that the committee "will prove that we are a democratic state." In addition, he wanted to emphasize that he "does not act out of personal motives but as defense minister out of a critical national need."
"Investigation Now" activists are expected to demonstrate today outside the prime minister's office. "Anyone who votes against or abstains from voting spit in the faces of the citizens of Israel," they said. "It is inconceivable that personal interests and petty politics will prevail over the public interest." The demonstrators will seek to make it clear to ministers "that only a state commission of inquiry will remove the cloud over the serious security corruption case in the country's history."
The decision details the specific procurement procedures that the committee is asked to examine: procurement of assault shield ships; Purchase of submarines; Purchased anti-submarine ships; Privatization of naval shipyards and agreement to sell third-party submarines (Egypt). "The committee will determine findings and conclusions regarding all aspects related to the conduct of decision-makers at the political level in the said processes, including the working interfaces and cooperation between them and the defense establishment, including various policy decisions that accompany these processes and conduct vis-à-vis external parties." Since some of those involved in the submarine case are indicted, the decision clarifies that the commission will not investigate the conduct of defendants in criminal proceedings and will not make findings or recommendations in their case, and that in any case the witnesses in the criminal proceedings will be summoned to appear before the commission.
The decision states that, as a rule, the committee should hold its deliberations behind closed doors, and not publish its minutes - unless "the topics of the discussion do not include confidential information or information that has a security classification at any level of classification." The final report to be formulated by the committee will also be subject to the same rules of classification and confidentiality, which will be determined in coordination with the Ministry of Defense; The report will be submitted to members of the government and members of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. At the same time, the decision does not set a deadline and only requests that the report be submitted "as soon as possible."
The budget cost of the committee, according to the decision-makers' proposal, is NIS 9 million - seven from the Ministry of Defense budget and NIS 2 million from the Ministry of Justice. For the benefit of the committee's activities, eight manpower standards will be allocated to the administration of the courts.

photo: IDF 

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