JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
Israel’s top police official has accused Simcha Dinitz’s attorney of trying to interfere with the ongoing investigation into the Jewish Agency chairman’s alleged financial improprieties.
Police Minister Moshe Shahal, in an interview with Israel Radio, said attorney Amnon Goldenberg had called him to ask that the police hand the case over to state prosecutors without recommending whether Dinitz should be indicted for misuse of Jewish Agency funds.
A recommendation regarding an indictment is routine police procedure, although it is not binding on prosecutors.
Shahal said that another close associate of Dinitz had also tried to affect the police investigation, but he provided no names.
“I made it clear it would be unacceptable to deal with this case differently than others,” Shahal said on the radio. “The police must conduct investigations professionally, without political interference.”
The allegations against Dinitz are of deep concern to leaders of the Jewish fund-raising campaigns in North America, because the Jewish Agency is the primary recipient of the contributions they channel to Israel.
Dinitz has repeatedly denied claims that the investigation has had an adverse affect on contributions to the United Jewish Appeal and Keren Hayesod campaigns.
AN EYE ON AUG. 31 MEETING?
But in an indication of concern, the Jewish Agency Board of Governors has appointed a senior advisory committee to monitor the impact of the affair on fund-raising efforts. The committee is charged with making a recommendation by the end of this month as to a course of action on the Dinitz affair.
The Jewish Agency’s executive committee is scheduled to discuss the advisory committee’s recommendation at an Aug. 31 session, and some expect the meeting to result in a vote of no confidence in Dinitz.
Sources say Dinitz wants to avoid having a police recommendation for his indictment announced prior to the Aug. 31 meeting.
But Dinitz has disavowed knowledge of any efforts to interfere with the case.
“Any request to stop or interfere with the investigation was unknown to me,” he said in a prepared statement.” I have fully supported the police inquiry throughout.”
Meanwhile, Dinitz is continuing to dismiss charges that the affair has harmed fund-raising efforts. In an interview last week with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Dinitz said he had been “flooded with hundreds of letters” of support, including “scores from the biggest contributors.”
But in a strong indication of concern from the fund-raising community, the Jewish Federation of the North Shore, in Marblehead, Mass., has publicly and formally demanded that Dinitz take a leave of absence while the police investigation of his alleged financial misdeeds continues.