Police recommend fraud indictment for Israeli minister

Interior Minister Arye Deri was sentenced to three years in prison in 2000 for taking $155,000 in bribes. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 November 2018
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Police recommend fraud indictment for Israeli minister

  • “The findings of the investigation are that there is an evidentiary basis against Deri that he committed fraud and breach of trust”
  • The long-running investigation looked into large money transfers to Deri linked to land sales

JERUSALEM: Israeli police on Tuesday recommended the indictment of Interior Minister Arye Deri for fraud and breach of trust in an investigation related to real estate sales.
The attorney general will now decide whether to charge Deri, who heads ultra-Orthodox Jewish party Shas and has previously served prison time for corruption.
“The findings of the investigation are that there is an evidentiary basis against Deri that he committed fraud and breach of trust in connection with his conduct while serving as a minister,” a police statement said.
It said there was also evidence of tax offenses amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars and money laundering, among others.
The long-running investigation looked into large money transfers to Deri linked to land sales, police said.
Deri proclaimed his innocence and noted that previous allegations of bribe-taking were not included in the police recommendation.
They are the latest corruption allegations to hit Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
Police have recommended charges against Netanyahu in two separate corruption probes and the attorney general is expected to decide in the coming months whether to charge him.
In another investigation, police said earlier this month there was evidence to charge a lawyer for Netanyahu and the former head of his office, among others, with bribery linked to the purchase of German submarines.
Netanyahu was questioned as a witness and not a suspect in that case.
Deri was sentenced to three years in prison in 2000 for taking $155,000 in bribes, though his sentence was reduced by a third for good behavior.
His Shas party is a key part of Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition.
The interior ministry in Israel does not oversee the police, as is often the case in other countries.


Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

Updated 21 May 2019
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Beirut praises ‘progress’ on maritime border dispute

  • Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Lebanon insists that the area lies within its economic zone and refuses to give up a single part of it

BEIRUT: Lebanon has hinted that progress is being made in efforts to resolve its maritime border dispute with Israel following the return of a US mediator from talks with Israeli officials.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield returned to Lebanon following talks in Israel where he outlined Lebanese demands regarding the disputed area and the mechanism to reach a settlement.

The US mediator has signaled a new push to resolve the dispute after meetings with both Lebanese and Israeli officials.

Israel and Lebanon both claim ownership of an 860-square-kilometer area of the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon hopes to begin offshore oil and gas production in the offshore Block 9 as it grapples with an economic crisis.

A source close to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who met with Satterfield on Monday after his return to Lebanon, told Arab News that “there is progress in the efforts, but the discussion is not yet over.” He did not provide further details.

Sources close to the Lebanese presidency confirmed that Lebanon is counting on the US to help solve the demarcation dispute and would like to accelerate the process to allow exploration for oil and gas to begin in the disputed area.

Companies that will handle the exploration require stability in the area before they start working, the sources said.

Previous efforts by Satterfield to end the dispute failed in 2012 and again last year after Lebanon rejected a proposal by US diplomat Frederick Hoff that offered 65 percent of the disputed area to Lebanon and 35 percent to Israel. Lebanon insisted that the area lies within its economic zone and refused to give up a single part of it.

Satterfield has acknowledged Lebanon’s ownership of around 500 sq km of the disputed 850 sq km area.

Lebanon renewed its commitment to a mechanism for setting the negotiations in motion, including the formation of a tripartite committee with representatives of Lebanon, Israel and the UN, in addition to the participation of the US mediator. Beirut also repeated its refusal to negotiate directly with Israel.

Two months ago, Lebanon launched a marine environmental survey in blocks 4 and 9 in Lebanese waters to allow a consortium of French, Italian and Russian companies to begin oil and gas exploration in the area.