Netanyahu Ordered to Repay Cousin $30,000 He Received for Legal Defense

Committee will not reconvene to discuss Netanyahu's request to allow tycoon to fund defense in corruption trial

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press conference in Jerusalem, June 16, 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press conference in Jerusalem, June 16, 2020. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

The permits committee in the State Comptroller’s Office announced that it would not discuss Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to accept 10 million shekels (nearly $3 million) from U.S. businessman Spencer Partrich to help fund the legal defense in his corruption trial.

The committee also decided that Netanyahu must repay ten percent of the $300,000 he had previously received from his cousin Nathan Milikowsky without approval.

The permits committee said it relied on the legal opinion by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in making their decision. Mendelblit’s opinion said the amount requested was higher than allowed by law governing gifts to public servants.

The attorney general's opinion stated that any gift the prime minister receives is given to him as a public servant, and is therefore forbidden. There are exceptions to this rule, he wrote, which depend on the nature of the relationship between a public servant and the benefactor, or the nature of the gift.

However, Mendelblit added that this is not the case in this particular circumstance. In this case, it is impossible “to establish that the prime minister's receipt of this amount from Mr. Partrich is not a gift given to him because he is a public servant,” wrote Mendelblit.

As for the $300,000 Netanyahu received from Milikowsky, the committee decided that most of the money had been used for Sara Netanyahu’s legal defense, and she is considered to be a private citizen.

Netanyahu was formally indicted last month in the Jerusalem District Court in three corruption cases, in which he has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. – allegations he denies. The prime minster also claims that now that charges have been filed against him, he anticipates incurring major legal expenses to mount his defense.