With the continuing corruption investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, below is a look back at other scandals in Israeli politics. Each Israeli prime minister in the last two decades has been the subject of a probe, including Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. However, controversies are not just focused on prime ministers: dozens of Knesset members, mayors, and cabinet ministers were also investigated.
These probes fall to the hands of Lahav 433. Lahav 433 is an anti-corruption unit within the country’s police department that investigates both private and public officials. This unit also deals with organized crime.
Below are some of the controversial personalities who were questioned over their business dealings. Some of them were also convicted.
1. Avigdor Lieberman
Avigdor Lieberman now serves as the country’s Defense Minister. He had faced repeated questioning about many of his business dealings. This man has been interrogated on suspicion of fraud, breach of trust, and money laundering. He has participated in a long-running corruption investigation that, sometimes, still resurfaces on local news. Back in 2012, he was charged with fraud and breach of trust. However, he didn’t endure the serious charges of witness tampering and money laundering. Lieberman was acquitted on all of those charges.
2. Ehud Olmert
Olmert is the big name behind the popular scandal called “Holyland Affair.” He served a 19-month prison sentence for breach of trust and fraud. He was convicted back in 2012 of taking bribes connected to a housing project in the city of Jerusalem, where he was mayor before becoming Israel’s prime minister. In 2015, he was convicted for taking bribes in what was labeled as the “Talansky Affair.” Morris Talansky, an American businessman, testified that he provided Olmert envelopes filled with cash.
3. Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri was convicted of fraud, breach of trust, and taking bribes in 1999. This case dragged on throughout the 1990s. The ending? The court acquitted him of a second bribery charge, as well as a charge that he falsified some documents while he was interior minister. He served a two-year sentence. Right after his release, he went back to politics. He serves as Interior Minister once again.
4. Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu has been the focus of several criminal investigations before. Back in 1997, he was probed for possible charges of breach of trust and fraud. This was during his very first term as prime minister. He was accused of choosing an attorney general who can provide favorable treatment to an ally. The Police recommended charging him, but the prosecutors declined to file such charges.
After two years, he was once again probed for fraud. This time, it concerns accusations involving a contractor. Again, he wasn’t charged. He denied any wrongdoings.
5. Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon was suspected of taking thousands of dollars in bribes back in the 1990s. This eventually became known as the controversial “Greek Island Affair.” The prosecutors wanted to file charges against Sharon. However, the attorney general felt that there wasn’t enough evidence. The case involved David Appel, a businessman, bribing Sharon, who was then serving as a foreign minister. This is to help Appel win approval for a certain development in Greece.
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