The Jerusalem Post

Gantz, Sa’ar launch official inquiry into Subs Affair

- • By TOBIAS SIEGAL and GIL HOFFMAN Yonah Jeremy Bob and Jerusalem Post Staff contribute­d to this report.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced Friday that they will initiate a process to launch an official inquiry into the purchase of Navy ships and submarines in Case 3000, the so-called “Submarine Affair.”

Considerin­g the fact that “a criminal investigat­ion is already ongoing in this case,” Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit will oversee the process, a joint statement by Gantz and Sa’ar read.

The Investigat­ion Now movement, which took an active role during the anti-Netanyahu protests this past year, thanked Gantz and Sa’ar for their announceme­nt, praising it as “the right step in the right direction.”

A statement by the movement read that “an official inquiry committee that will investigat­e all aspects of the affair is the need of the hour. It is the moral and historical obligation of this ‘change government’ to restore public trust and remove any doubt behind this security affair, one of the most serious ones in our country’s history.”

The movement also demanded that Prime Minister Naftali Bennett express public support for the establishm­ent of the committee, “in order to avoid any further delays.”

The movement noted in its statement that it had dispatched a letter to Bennett and relevant ministers, demanding that a state inquiry committee into the Submarine Affair be establishe­d immediatel­y, warning that it would otherwise take legal action.

And while the movement seemed to support the step, it also voiced concern over

Mandelblit’s involvemen­t in the process, tweeting: “Establishi­ng an inquiry committee does not require an approval from the attorney-general, especially not from the same one allegedly involved in the Submarine Affair,” referring to Mandelblit’s decision to dismiss former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a suspect in the case.

Last month Gantz surprised the other party leaders in the coalition when he announced that he would be initiating a state commission of inquiry into the Submarine Affair, making the decision without consulting them or seeking their approval.

The announceme­nt angered Sa’ar, who released a sternly worded response, saying that his ministry had not received a draft proposal on forming the commission. He referred reporters to a clause in the coalition agreement prohibitin­g ministers from submitting proposals that are within the authority of another minister.

Gantz had said in November that he would set up a government committee of inquiry to investigat­e the procuremen­t of new submarines and vessels from Germany but Netanyahu

refused to approve it.

Then, more than half a year later on June 7, the state announced indictment­s in Case 3000 against Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, his then-nominee to lead the National Security Council and several other senior officials, while surprising­ly dismissing cases against the former prime minister’s close confidant and cousin David Shimron and former navy chief Eliezer Marom.

The state said in December 2019 that it would likely indict all of the above listed officials, but since then the suspects appeared at pre-indictment hearings held by the State Attorney’s Office and Shimron and Marom managed to convince the prosecutio­n to drop the charges against them.

At one point, Mandelblit was also involved, since there were parts in the case which could have led to charges against Netanyahu himself. The attorney-general had the prime minister questioned as a fact witness, but he was never declared a suspect.

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