Hello to David Shimron, the lawyer of Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu. Nir Gontarz from Haaretz here. How are you?
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Yes. Fine. Thank you.
Tell me, are you the one who has to cope with the state comptroller’s report about the funding for Benjamin Netanyahu’s trips abroad?
In what sense? First of all, let’s define the conversation: off the record, on the record, background?
Totally on the record.
On the record. Okay. Look, I had dealings with the state comptroller about the report, and I’m continuing to deal with what’s related to the report on a professional basis.
Understood. I will speak openly and directly. Alright?
As you like.
Great. Look, the report is very severe, so either the couple committed major transgressions or they did not commit major transgressions, in which case you failed in your dialogue with the state comptroller, because his findings are very serious.
Look On the one hand, when I look at the drafts of the report, I think that many parts of the shortcomings that existed in [earlier] drafts were corrected after our comments.
Still, the result is harsh from your and the Netanyahus’ point of view.
I am not happy with the final result. I think the state comptroller is mistaken on several basic matters. For example, the somewhat skewed notion that Israel Bonds is a kind of “foreign organization,” so that a conflict of interest could arise between the finance minister [the post Netanyahu held in the period covered by the report] and the Bonds organization. That is simply unconscionable. All of Israel’s finance ministers down through the years have been responsible for Israel Bonds and have appointed the organization’s president, and at the same time they appeared [on behalf of the organization] and raised funds.
Yes, but there’s a difference between raising funds for them and taking funds from them, and then they also appointed the presidents in the end.
They are always invited by Israel Bonds, both the finance minister and other ministers, too. Everyone. Afterward there is the mistaken statement that there was funding by private individuals. That is simply not true. It’s a misunderstanding: The funding was not by private individuals but by organizations. And the organizations are always funded by private individuals.
Wait a minute, but why did Netanyahu need external funding when he was finance minister? Either he travels on behalf of the state, in which case the state pays, or he travels privately and pays himself, no?
No, but listen. If the state I am not in favor of the state having to I mean, when you have situations like these in in in in it’s completely accepted that the people who invite you pay the expenses.
Wait a minute, but if he travels on behalf of the state’s interests, then we will pay him. What’s the problem?
Good, that’s a nice way to put it. Then please, make that the rule for the future. You can’t make rules retroactively. Rules that apply only to Netanyahu. Not to Shimon Peres and not to
What’s that got to do with it? [Rules that] don’t apply to Shimon Peres, don’t apply to any other finance minister
So it’s personal persecution?
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You people are coming
The comptroller came up with this issue, and there is a different law for Netanyahu than for any other finance minister in Israel in the past. If you want to decide for the future that only the state pays for
But only trips on behalf of the state, not private trips.
Then, please, I am not getting into the moral debate. I have an opinion about it, but it’s not relevant. But please.
I see. And what about Sara, who also got foreign funding?
Throughout the world, and in Israel, the wife of a former prime minister [referring to Sara Netanyahu’s status at the time her husband was finance minister] has is entitled to join him and
Fine, but why at the expense of foreign elements?
At the expense of the organization that is funding that issues the invitation to an event of one kind or another.
Tell me, is Netanyahu capable of spending one shekel from his private pocket?
I have to say that that is an impudent question.
Why and in what way?
That is an impudent question. Mr. Netanyahu, when he acts within the public framework, is funded by the public in one way or another. When he acts privately, certainly he spends from his private pocket.
Fine, but in any event, most of the expenses are borne by us. After all, the private home in Caesarea, the
Fine, but I will just finish the question.
Fine, but why are you shouting at me like this?
Because you are asking impudent questions! The expenses of the Caesarea house are covered by the procedures.
I didn’t say otherwise.
As were the expenses of the home of Yitzhak Rabin in Ramat Aviv. And I did not hear you, Mr. Gontarz, or your predecessors, referring to that. There are rules, and you can’t apply them to one person and not to another.
Do you think there’s any substance to the things that are said about Sara Netanyahu? Or is it that the senior figures around her don’t see anything and only the junior ones see things?
I thought we were talking about the issue of
Both the one and the other.
What I can tell you is that the treatment meted out to Mrs. Netanyahu, and the image she has been stuck with, and the stories and lies that are told about her are not things that occurred in my presence.
If you weren’t present, how do you know they are lies?
I have indications to that effect. I have known her for something like 26-27 years. That’s enough time to know who you are dealing with.
So you never saw outbursts, as people say. Lucky you.
Of those kinds – certainly not.
Fine, so apparently there are two individuals: one for junior figures, one for distinguished people. After all, it can’t be that
Would you like me to tell you something as a Jew now?
One of the phrases I hate is, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Because if you wander around Eastern Europe and ask 10 people what Jews do at Passover
Hey, you’re going too far.
No, no, no, no, no. I am not going far. Five-six will tell you that they make matzos out of children’s blood, so does that mean it’s true?
Fine, fine. You’re overdoing it.
No, I’m not, but maybe the association is inappropriate. Up to you.
Fine, so you’re saying that Sara is a nice, affable, decent woman and all.
I encounter her as an, um, likable woman, very intelligent – and I don’t think this is the subject you wanted to talk to me about.
Fine, sir, thank you very much.