New names in Bibi gifts investigation
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned by police for a third time last Friday as part of three ongoing investigations into his affairs.
The police have focused evidence given by film producer Arnon Milchan, who said he had regularly supplied, on request, cigars and Champagne to the Netanyahu family. Mr Milchan insists he was not expecting anything in return.
Police have the names of at least four foreign businessmen who allegedly gave the Netanyahu family gifts, including the President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder. However, the investigation is focusing on gifts from Mr Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer.
Meanwhile, the second case, concerning Mr Netanyahu’s dealings with media tycoon Arnon Mozes, is proceeding apace. Last Friday, Mr Mozes was questioned once again by police and, according to legal sources, provided evidence to support a claim that Mr Netanyahu has control over the editorial policy of Israel Hayom, the freesheet owned by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. If this is established, it could prove that his relationship with Israel Hayom constituted illegal political funding. The prime minister insists there was nothing untoward about “gifts given out of friendship” and that his dealings with Mr Mozes were the norm in relations between politicians and media. The third case regarding Mr Netanyahu, which so far has not been classified as a criminal probe, is over the actions of his personal attorney and adviser David Shimron, who also worked as a lawyer for the Israeli representatives of the German shipyard chosen to build submarines and missile-boats for the Israeli navy. On Friday, former Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon was questioned by police on this case. According to reports in the Israeli media, Mr Yaalon told police that the prime minister intervened in the deals with the shipyard. However, Mr Netanyahu claims he was not aware of his adviser’s involvement with the German company.
Claims of giftgiving: Packer