Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced Sunday that he would form a government committee to investigate the irregular purchase process of submarines and corvettes, an affair that has already resulted in indictments against several close associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as high-ranking military officials, but not the premier himself.
The so-called submarine affair, also known as Case 3000, revolves around allegations of a massive bribery scheme in the multi-billion-shekel state purchase of the naval vessels from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp.
Netanyahu, who former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon claims led an improper effort to buy the submarines from Thyssenkrupp, has previously blocked a number of efforts to form a parliamentary commission of inquiry.
Gantz’s move to set up the government commission of inquiry, which will operate under the auspices of the Defense Ministry, could inflame tensions with Netanyahu and imperil the already dysfunctional unity government.
The defense minister’s office said in a statement that the committee, to be led by retired judge Amnon Straschnov, will be specifically tasked with exploring the role of the Prime Minister’s Office in the purchase of the naval vessels, as well as that of the National Security Agency and the Defense Ministry.
The statement noted that Gantz had reached a decision on the establishment of the committee after holding numerous consultations with former senior members of the legal and security establishment.
“In light of these consultations and current information to which he is privy, Gantz has come to the conclusion that a formal inquiry by a Defense Ministry commission will be able to shed light on some of the processes that led to the procurement of submarines and patrol boats, looking at the procedures and contracting execution,” it said. (end of excerpt)
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