Top cop farce may have happy end­ing

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PF­EF­FER

FOR 48 hours, the media in Is­rael was al­lowed to name the na­tion’s next chief of po­lice only by his first ini­tial — R. That did not change the fact that any­one could easily find his name on Wikipedia, which was quick to pre­pare an en­try on the man.

Only when Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu gave of­fi­cial au­tho­ri­sa­tion to In­ter­nal Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Gi­lad Er­dan could the name Roni Al­sheikh — the deputy chief of the Shin Bet — be re­vealed.

Mean­while, for an en­tire week­end, users of so­cial media had fun with a pic­ture of a rather portly man, his lux­u­ri­ant mous­tache just vis­i­ble de­spite the pix­e­la­tion. It was a suit­able farce with which to end what had been a grue­some ap­point­ment process.

Is­rael’s po­lice has been rocked by scan­dals over the past two years. Se­nior of­fi­cers, some of whom had been con­sid­ered can­di­dates for the top job, have been forced to re­sign over al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual and fi­nan­cial mis­con­duct.

In ad­di­tion, public trust in the force is at an all-time low. There was crit­i­cism of its slow re­sponse to an emer­gency call from one of the three teenagers

Po­lice on pa­trol in East Jerusalem; and ( who were kid­napped and then mur­dered by Ha­mas in June 2014. The po­lice also came un­der fire over the lack of at­ten­tion paid to Yishai Sh­lies­sel, the man who at­tacked the Jerusalem Gay Pride pa­rade a decade ago and, de­spite threat­en­ing to do so again, was al­lowed to carry out the mur­der of Shira Banki this sum­mer.

De­spite this dis­mal record, In­spec­tor-Gen­eral Yochanan Danino was

new chief Roni Al­sheikh al­lowed to re­main in his post and com­plete an ex­tended term. Even when he fi­nally re­tired, a re­place­ment was still not ap­pointed.

Bentzi Sau, the in­terim com­mis­sioner, had been hop­ing to land the job but Mr Er­dan de­cided to go out­side the force in search of a new broom.

Af­ter in­ter­view­ing a long list of serv­ing and for­mer gen­er­als, he set­tled upon Gal Hirsch, a mav­er­ick bri­gadier-gen­eral who left the army un­der a cloud nine years ago, af­ter the Sec­ond Le­banon War.

Days af­ter the ap­point­ment was an­nounced, how­ever, al­le­ga­tions of tax ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties re­lat­ing to Mr Hirsch’s pri­vate de­fence con­sul­tancy emerged and the at­tor­ney-gen­eral ruled that these would have to be in­ves­ti­gated first. Forced to back down, Mr Er­dan re­turned to one of his orig­i­nal can­di­dates.

Mr Al­sheikh, a vet­eran agent-run­ner and in­ter­roga­tor, had orig­i­nally turned the top cop job down as he was al­ready slated to be­come the next Shin Bet chief. It took a meet­ing with Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, who ap­pealed to his sense of pa­tri­o­tism, for him to agree to take over the trou­bled po­lice force.

While some far-left com­men­ta­tors have crit­i­cised the ap­point­ment of a man who lived for most of his life in West Bank set­tle­ments (though to­day he lives in the Tel Aviv sub­urb of Gi­vat Sh­muel) as the head of law en­force­ment, the 52-year-old grand­fa­ther of seven is widely be­ing hailed as an im­pec­ca­ble public ser­vant and a suit­able choice.

Whether or not spend­ing 27 years in the shad­ows has pre­pared him for a job that, above all, en­tails re­gain­ing the public’s trust, re­mains to be seen.

PHOTOS: FLASH 90

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