Investigators from the police's Lahav 433 unit questioned Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) under caution on Sunday on suspicion of receiving illicit contribution, failing to report donations he received, and giving a false statement.
A preliminary investigation was launched against Herzog in late March on suspicion he used funds from his private company – which specializes in bringing foreign caregivers into Israel – to fund his campaign during the Labor party primaries in 2013.
Allegations have been made that Herzog used a team of lawyers to hide the money, and make the financial transfer from his private company to his campaign appear legal.
Sources close to Herzog said the Zionist Union party leader, who was questioned for almost six hours, fully cooperated with investigators and provided answers to all questions.
A statement from Herzog said he request to provide his version to police as quickly as possible, "so I could put the matter behind me - and so I did."
"I have complete trust in law enforcement authorities, and am thankful for their fair and respectable conduct," he went on to say. "After leaving (the investigations room), I am entirely convinced that there is no blot on my character and that soon, this affair will be behind me."
After leaving the investigations room, the Zionist Union leader called members of his faction to assuage their concerns, and politicians who spoke to him said he sounded "calm and at ease." Many of his faction members also commented on the party's WhatsApp group, wishing him luck and expressing their support.
When news of the preliminary investigation leaked to the press, Herzog welcomed it, but stressed that "This is political slander that the Likud party and disgruntled activists tried to spread before the elections, and it was denied at the time. I'm certain the investigation will disprove these absurd claims once and for all. I will fully cooperate with whatever I'm asked to do, so the issue can be promptly clarified."
This isn't the first time Herzog has faced such suspicions. He served as the cabinet secretary in Ehud Barak's government following the 1999 elections. Allegations arose against Barak’s campaign of violating the Parties Financing Law, and Herzog was suspected of fundraising for the One Israel (Labor) party with the help of NGOs. At the time, he was questioned under warning and police recommended to indict him. But Herzog maintained silence, and the attorney general eventually decided to close the case, citing insufficient evidence.
MK Shelly Yachimovich (Zionist Union) stated, "I am convinced that Herzog has the party and the opposition's best interests in mind, and I will work in cooperation with him and party members to decide what steps to take. There is no doubt that the opposition leader being questioned under caution woesens the situation. I completely trust the police and legal authorities."