Defense Minister Benny Gantz said Thursday he is examining the possibility of forming a committee to investigate the alleged submarine graft case following leaks alleging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's involvement.
The so-called submarine affair, known as Case 3000, allegedly saw Israeli officials advocating for the purchase of submarines and patrol boats from German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp in return for kickbacks. Netanyahu is also accused of approving Thyssenkrupp's sale of submarines and anti-submarine warships to Egypt.
During an interview with Ynet, Gantz called the case “a very serious one,” adding that it should be further investigated.
"I am examining the possibility of setting up a sub-committee of inquiry into the submarine affair,” said Gantz. “This is definitely a step I might take.”
Gantz’s statement came following a leak of several excerpts from former Defense Ministry director-general Dan Harel’s affidavit, submitted to the Supreme Court, in which he said that despite his professional objection, Netanyahu personally approved the purchase of a seventh submarine by Israel.
"I was under the impression that behind this procurement, there is an interest that is not clear to me," Harel said.
Likud officials slammed the Blue & White chief for his remarks.
"After Netanyahu managed to reduce the coronavirus infection rate, instead of uniting in the struggle and saving lives, Blue & White continues to operate as a government within a government and recycle the submarine affair,” the party said in a statement.
"Everyone knows the submarine affair was shredded by all law enforcement agencies, even those known for their hostility towards Netanyahu were forced to admit he had nothing to do with the allegations. It is time for Gantz to start working for the good of the people and not the poll numbers," added the statement.
Opposition head and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said he welcomed Gantz’s intention to form a committee to investigate the affair.
"This is the most serious security-related corruption case in the country's history,” said Lapid.
“The prime minister has not yet answered the question: why did he approve the sale of advanced submarines to Egypt without updating the defense minister and the chief of staff?”
The affair was under severe public scrutiny when it was first revealed, with several officials linked to the deal and being investigated over allegations of conflict of interest, bribery and corruption among others.
While the affair led to the prosecution of some of Netanyahu's associates, the prime minister himself was never a suspect in the case.