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Israel’s Gantz sets up panel to probe Netanyahu submarine scandal

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A protester wears a mask depicting Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu being detained after blocking the main highway leading to Jerusalem al-Quds as people protest against Netanyahu's alleged corruption in Ein Hemed, on November 14, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Israel's minister of military affairs Benny Gantz has announced the formation of a commission to investigate the purchase of submarines and missile boats from Germany that has embroiled several close associates of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The probe, which is expected to last about four months, “can shed light on part of the processes that led to the procurement of the submarines and vessels,” Gantz said on Sunday.

The commission lacks legal authority and cannot force any witness to testify before it.

Netanyahu was questioned but not named as a suspect in the submarine scandal.

The latest development comes as Israeli protesters have demanded Netanyahu to be probed during their weekly protests that occur outside the prime minister’s official residence.

Netanyahu, who is on trial on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three other cases, was sworn in for a fifth term this summer after striking a unity deal with his principal election rival, former military chief Gantz.

Gantz’s move is seen as an attempt to pressure Netanyahu into fulfilling their coalition agreements, but reports have said it could further destabilize the already shaky unity regime.

Netanyahu’s Likud party slammed Gantz’s decision as an empty political maneuver intended to revitalize his flagging support.

“Gantz has not succeeded in emerging from the depths of the polls,” the party said in a statement, “so he is recycling the submarines to garner votes while his party is busy with internal quarrels.”

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