The head of the Knesset’s Constitution Law and Justice Committee called on Friday for a probe into allegations that former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered staffers to shred documents at the Prime Minister’s Office before he handed power to successor Naftali Bennett this week.
Labor MP Gilad Kariv said the alleged activity would not only be illegal but a “total deviation from standard operating procedures,” calling on the Attorney General to order an examination of the shredding of documents.
On Friday, the Haaretz daily said documents stored in safes in the Prime Minister’s Office were shredded on Sunday, in violation of the law, shortly before Bennett took office.
The daily wrote that people who worked at the office under Netanyahu said it was he who made the order, adding that it was not immediately clear which documents were destroyed or how many.
“The safes containing the documents are located in the so-called ‘aquarium’ – a sterile area where the prime minister and his most senior aides sit,” Haaretz said.
They usually contain the schedules of senior officials, documents related to their work and other material.
Kariv said these actions represent a blow to government continuity and could hinder the orderly and proper transfer of power from one government to the next.
In a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Kariv wrote: “This matter demands a swift and fundamental investigation as it touches on the heart of democratic life and no less so also matters of national security.”
According to the Israeli law, documents created or received during the course of civil servants’ work belong to the state, and must be stored in the office, or returned if they were kept elsewhere.
All documents, public or private, in the hands of civil servants should be kept in the office’s archives.