Netanyahu Suspected of Bribery and Fraud, Police Tells Court

Court issues gag order on talks with former aide Ari Harow to become state witness; Netanyahu: The campaign to change the government is destined to fail

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, July 30, 2017.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday, July 30, 2017. Amir Cohen, Pool via AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two cases, Israel Police confirmed on Thursday when it requested a gag order on the ongoing talks to recruit a state witness. The gag order was granted and is effective until September 17.

>> UPDATE: Former Netanyhau aide Ari Harow reaches deal to become state's witness >> Profile: This Man Could Bring Down Netanyahu

A response on behalf of the prime minister stated on Thursday: "We completely reject the unfounded claims made against the prime minister. The campaign to change the government is underway, but it is destined to fail, for a simple reason: there won't be anything because there was nothing."

Also on Thursday, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said that progress was being made in talks with a former top aide to Netanyahu, Ari Harow, about becoming a state witness.

>> Read more: Netanyahu's trusted aide, now possibly his worst enemy >>

Speaking during a ceremony at the Supreme Court, Mendelblit said "we're making progress" and that the prosecution was "working with the police" on getting, Netanyahu's former chief of staff, to become state witness. He asked reporters to "let us work in peace and find the truth."

According to recent reports by Haaretz, the information he provided allegedly indicated criminal connections between Harow, the prime minister and people in the prime minister’s circles.

The two cases mentioned in the police request are known as Case 1000, which involves Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, who was asked to purchase luxury items for Netanyahu and his wife; and Case 2000, in which Netanyahu tried to concoct a deal with Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth. 

Harow, who is suspected of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, aggravated fraud and money laundering, was also a key figure in a case that the police did not pursue. He headed the American Friends of Likud, which allegedly paid the salary of Odelia Karmon, an adviser to Netanyahu when the prime minister, who heads the Likud party, was opposition leader. 

During the investigation of Harow, police confiscated his cell phone, and found recordings documenting the Netanyahu-Mozes conversations that are the basis of the Case 2000 probe. In the Karmon case, the attorney general did not believe that investigators would be able to produce evidence justifying a criminal indictment for alleged offenses that are subject in any event to a 10-year statute of limitations. Senior law enforcement officials believed, however, that the investigation should have been pursued, especially in light of recordings of Karmon that were obtained by police in which she described the sequence of events after she received her salary.

“Bibi became insanely hysterical, all of a sudden. I don’t know who whispered to him, after all, you can light him up like a flame ... and then he said to me: Odelia, give back the money.” In the recording, Karmon also mentioned Harow: “He plied Netanyahu with many things. Flight tickets or whenever Netanyahu was in a bind. But not in exchange for anything. He was honest and sweet. He was simply helpless.”