Retired Israeli army general and Democratic Union party member Yair Golan called on Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit to launch an investigation against Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked following Haaretz's report that revealed she tried to persuade Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to let her rejoin Likud if she gains him immunity from prosecution in the corruption cases he is embroiled in.
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Recordings and correspondence Haaretz has seen show that intermediaries on behalf of Shaked promised Netanyahu associates that she would offer him categorical support, as a means to keep him from standing trial.
– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 35
Haaretz Weekly Ep. 35Haaretz
>> Read more: Shaked relayed to Netanyahu: I control the attorney general, will make sure you get immunity ■ How Ayelet Shaked became the most powerful woman in Israeli politics
One of the intermediaries described her as being close to Mendelblit. “She knows how to influence him. She’s close to him. If she doesn’t control the Justice Ministry, obviously Bibi will go to jail,” he said.
Another of Shaked’s representatives suggested that “only she can get immunity for Bibi. She knows how to explain to the media why immunity is warranted. She has credibility. She isn’t Miri Regev” – a reference to the sports and culture minister, a member of Likud.
In a letter he send to Mendelblit, Golan claimed that the messages Shaked had relayed constitute breach of trust, an attempt to bribe the premier and an obstruction of legal proceedings.
"These messages raise concern that a senior minister in Israel is turning her office and her authority into tools in a political and opportunist negotiation that is meant to help a suspect escape the court," he wrote the attorney general.
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Shaked denied the report on Monday, stating that it was "an ugly attempt to besmirch me. The statements quoted are indeed very grave, but they have nothing to do with me and were not uttered at my directive. I never spoke to the attorney general about criminal cases, especially not about the Netanyahu cases. I trust that the public is smart enough [not to believe this]."
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is number 10 on Democratic Union's slate, responded to the report as well: "This is an obvious attempt to create a bribery deal in order to get into the club of Netanyahu loyalists. This corrupt deal, if it happened, is the swan song of the corrupt who destroy Israeli democracy."
Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz also blasted the contacts between Shaked and Netanyahu. "Ayelet Shaked and Benjamin Netanyahu are two disconnected politicians who only care about themselves, their seats and the absurd immunity laws… the recordings that were revealed, whether [the statements] were uttered at Shaked's behest or not, show the lie endorsed by the right: Immunity above all. It's time to replace Shaked and Netanyahu's leadership with a leadership that cares for the people first."
Nitzan Horowitz, the chair of the Meretz Party that has merged with the Democratic Union, called the report proof that Israel conducts itself "like a banana republic."
"The attorney general is in Shaked's back pocket, a thousand denials won't help her. Such an offer by 'Shaked associates' is a corruption of the entire system," he added.
Meanwhile, Likud stated: "Prime Minister Netanyahu doesn't need any politician to claim that the absurd claims against him are completely unfounded and unprecedented."