Likud ministers said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told them he would like to advance the next election as soon as possible due to his high public approval ratings despite the criminal investigations against him, Channel 1 reported Sunday night.
According to the report, Netanyahu said that advancing the election was not possible because of the strong opposition of his coalition partners, who he worried would take revenge against the Likud.
A Likud minister who has met with Netanyahu multiple times in the past week and discussed the possibility of elections fiercely denied the report.
“Netanyahu wants the elections to be held on time in November 2019, and any minister who claims the prime minister told them differently is lying,” the Likud minister told The Jerusalem Post.
In ongoing news of investigations, a businessman considered close to National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz and a former consultant of his were arrested and questioned on Sunday morning in the police investigation that has been dubbed the “submarines affair.”
Case 3000, as it is also known, is a police corruption investigation into Israel’s purchase of German made naval vessels. Michael Ganor was the Israeli representative of the German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp and became a state’s witness in late July.
Reports claim that the latest developments in the investigation are a result of Ganor’s testimony.
Later on Sunday, the former consultant, whose name remained under a gag order, was released to a five-day house arrest.
Political strategist Natan Mor, who was arrested last week and is suspected of bribery, was also released from remand to house arrest.
Senior police officials were quoted in reports as saying that Steinitz’s questioning is likely to happen in the near future. However, for now, Steinitz is not a suspect in Case 3000.
Last week, political strategist Tzachi Lieber, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff David Sharan – who previously served under Steinitz – and Steinitz’s political adviser Rami Tayeb were also arrested and questioned in the case.
Former minister Eliezer “Modi” Zandberg and the former commander of the Israel Navy commando unit, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Shai Brosh, were also arrested and questioned last week in probe and later released.