Netanyahu and police chief to celebrate Purim together during interrogation
In a move aimed at repairing recently damaged ties between the two, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will host Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich at his festive Purim meal on Friday while the premier is questioned by police investigators in the Bezeq corruption probe, The Times of Israel has learned.
Police are set to question Netanyahu in the so-called Case 4000 corruption probe on Friday, despite it falling on the day that the Jewish festival of Purim is celebrated in Jerusalem. Rather than cancel the Netanyahus’ annual Purim seudah, a traditional festival feast eaten with friends and family, it was decided that police investigators would question the prime minister during the meal.
Alsheich was reportedly invited in an effort to cool heated relations with Netanyahu after the prime minister accused the police chief of leading a “biased witch hunt” against him during two year-long investigations, of making “outlandish and slanderous claims” about him by recommending he be indicted for bribery, and having the appearance of a “super-Mario lookalike who has had one too many pizzas.”
Several provisions have been put in place to prevent possible tensions during the meal.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit released a memo on Wednesday barring politicians and law enforcement officials from exchanging mishloach manot, gifts of food and drink given on the Purim festival, in a possible nod to the allegations that Netanyahu received a million shekels in gifts from billionaire benefactors.
Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu B.A, M.A, has been advised not to order the food from a caterer, and while there is a tradition to drink alcohol at the meal “until one doesn’t know the difference between a Prosseco and an Armand de Brignac,” champagne will apparently not be served.
Netanyahu’s long-time friends Shaul Elovitch, the majority shareholder of Bezeq, and Nir Hefetz, a former media adviser for the prime minister, had planned to attend the meal but are currently in police custody as criminal suspects. Former chief of staff Ari Harow and Communication’s Ministry director-general Shlomo Filber were also initially said to be planning on attending but were apparently disinvited without a reason given.
Previous invitees have included Netanyahu’s former bureau chief David Sharan, his cousin and personal lawyer David Shimron, his former diplomatic envoy Yitzhak Molcho, his one-time pick for national security adviser Avriel Bar-Yosef and his close friend’s Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian meg-investor James Packer.
The Prime Minsiter’s Office said that the event would not be fully open to the press but that the Walla news site and the Yedioth Aharonoth daily would be granted exclusive coverage.
Alsheich has reportedly said he is “looking forward to the meal,” but joked about the possible reception the Netanyahus may give him.
“I hope he hasn’t prepared gallows for me,” Alsheich is said to have said in jest in a reference to the antagonist of the Purim story, Haman, who planned to hang the Jewish hero Mordechai at gallows built in his own home.
“We all know what happened last time,” Alsheich added with a smile.
The above is, of course, satire.