Israel Police Question Netanyahu's Attorney in Graft Cases

Attorney David Shimron speaking to police on allegations that tycoons purchased gifts for the Netanyahus, as well as a separate investigation into allegations of media manipulation.

Lawyer David Shimron. Netanyahu's cousin and lawyer.
David Shimron. Benjamin Netanyahu's cousin and personal lawyer. Moti Milrod

Israel Police officials are questioning David Shimron, attorney to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in two corruption cases involving the premier this morning.

The so-called "Case 1000" centers on the suspicion that tycoons, including Arnon Milchan, purchased cigars, alcoholic beverages and jewelry for Netanyahu and his wife, valued at hundreds of thousands of shekels. Netanyahu said the gifts were from close friends, hence there is nothing illegal about them.

The so-called "Case 2000" involves suspicions that the prime minister tried to barter favorable media coverage from the Yedioth Ahronoth news group, in exchange for enacting a law that would hurt a major competitor, the free newspaper Israel Hayom. His negotiations were held with Yedioth leader Arnon Mozes.

Netanyahu was questioned over both cases for a fourth time two weeks ago  at his official residence in Jerusalem, a session that lasted five hours. The questioning was interrupted for about a half hour when U.S. President Donald Trump telephoned Netanyahu.

During questioning, the prime minister reportedly said that he cannot smoke as many cigars as he's accused of because of a sinus problem. Netanyahu said he cannot even put a cigar in his mouth for a several-month period each year and therefore the estimates of how much they cost are exaggerated. Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu said he himself had purchased the cigars that he did smoke.

Senior police sources said this week that the investigations will continue even if Netanyahu dismantles the government, as he threatened to do, and early elections are called. 

The sources said that both probes are going into their home stretches and should be completed within a few months. Even if elections are moved forward, at least one of the investigations should be complete by the time Israel heads to the polls. But Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit will decide when to publish the results and no official police announcements will be made without his permission.