Ne­tanyahu off to Mu­nich talks, leaves le­gal woes be­hind

PM ex­pected to meet sev­eral lead­ers, warn of Ira­nian en­trench­ment in Syria

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By HERB KEINON

Sig­nal­ing a busi­ness-as-usual at­ti­tude in the face of sig­nif­i­cant le­gal woes, Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu will travel to the Mu­nich Se­cu­rity Con­fer­ence on Thurs­day, less than 48 hours af­ter the po­lice rec­om­mended he be in­dicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Ne­tanyahu will be in Mu­nich for three nights, re­turn­ing to Is­rael on Sun­day. Of­fi­cials in the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice said there was never any dis­cus­sion about can­cel­ing the trip in the wake of the po­lice rec­om­men­da­tions.

Ne­tanyahu, the first Is­raeli prime min­is­ter to ever at­tend the prom­i­nent an­nual con­fer­ence, is sched­uled to hold a lunch meet­ing with eco­nomic lead­ers on Fri­day and ad­dress the 600-strong con­fer­ence on Sun­day. He is also ex­pected to meet with a num­ber of the world lead­ers who will be in at­ten­dance, though a fi­nal list has not been re­leased.

One se­nior West­ern di­plo­mat said that it is un­likely that the re­cent events will have an

im­pact on which lead­ers will want to meet with Ne­tanyahu, or how ef­fec­tive he will be on the in­ter­na­tional stage.

“No­body will se­cond-guess whether they should meet him be­cause of the po­lice rec­om­men­da­tions,” the di­plo­mat said. “They will all ask their em­bassies for ad­vice, and who­ever they ask will say, ‘Lis­ten, there is a long process still ahead. This is only a rec­om­men­da­tion, the at­tor­ney-gen­eral still has to de­cide.’ That the whole thing is not pretty? Sure. But pol­i­tics is not a beauty con­test. He is in charge, he is in power.”

This will be the se­cond high-pro­file con­fer­ence Ne­tanyahu has at­tended in less than a month, hav­ing gone in Jan­uary to Davos for the eco­nomic sum­mit there. Mos­sad head Yossi Co­hen is also sched­uled to take part in the Mu­nich con­fer­ence.

The theme of Ne­tanyahu’s re­marks, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials in the PMO, will be en­coun­ter­ing Iran’s en­trench­ment in Syria, an is­sue that has gained greater ur­gency as a re­sult of Satur­day’s mil­i­tary ac­tion against Syr­ian and Ira­nian tar­gets, which re­sulted in the down­ing of an Is­rael Air Force F16, fol­low­ing the in­cur­sion of an Ira­nian drone.

Some of the key ac­tors in Syria are ex­pected to at­tend the sum­mit, in­clud­ing Ira­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif and Saudi For­eign Min­is­ter Adel al-Jubeir, as well as their Rus­sian and Turk­ish coun­ter­parts, Sergei Lavrov and Mevlüt Cavusoglu.

The US will be rep­re­sented by Sec­re­tary of De­fense James Mat­tis, Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser H.R. McMaster, CIA Di­rec­tor Mike Pom­peo and Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Di­rec­tor Dan Coats.

The fol­low­ing lead­ers will also be at­tend­ing: the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Ha­mad al-Thani, Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi, Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May, Ukrainian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, Rwan­dan Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame, Aus­trian Chan­cel­lor Se­bas­tian Kurz, UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral An­to­nio Guter­res, EU Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent JeanClaude Juncker, EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini, NATO Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg and Pol­ish De­fense Min­is­ter Mar­iusz Blaszczak. • be­gan his se­cond stint as prime min­is­ter, the mag­a­zine said it was “the best Cuban ci­gar we re­viewed.” A sin­gle one of these cigars in a tube re­tails for around $34 abroad, but more in Is­rael. You can en­joy at least 40 min­utes of smok­ing it, likely more.

So what can you get for $284,000? In Jerusalem, not much, be­cause it’s dif­fi­cult to find the Co­hiba Siglo V.

The first ci­gar shop I stepped into in Jerusalem had no time to talk pol­i­tics. “I’ve been be­sieged by press,” said the man be­hind the counter, be­fore po­litely ask­ing me to leave. It seems the prime min­is­ter’s habits hung in the air al­ready.

In an­other store, other Co­hibas re­tail from NIS 165 to NIS 250. Mon­te­cristo cigars run from NIS 60 to NIS 230. In the­ory, you could get thou­sands of such cigars. Even if the prime min­is­ter smoked one a day for his 3,242 days in of­fice since March 31, 2009, there might be some left over.

When it comes to cham­pagne, it’s also not that easy to score Dom Pérignon. In fact, I couldn’t find any in down­town Jerusalem, and one wine seller rolled his eyes at what he said was a NIS 1,000 price tag. Why not a bot­tle of Moët & Chan­don Rosé Im­périal in­stead, for NIS 200? Of course, one could al­ways go lo­cal and get a Pel­ter sparkling wine for NIS 150.

For NIS 1 mil­lion, a per­son could be kept sup­plied with a Co­hiba a day and a bot­tle of cham­pagne a week for 10 years. If you smoked that many cigars, though, you’d have spent around 150 days smok­ing them, as­sum­ing each smok­ing ses­sion takes an hour. •

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