NEW YORK – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised his long-time ally, American business mogul and philanthropist Sheldon Adelson, at an event honoring the departing Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky in New York early Thursday. "There are no bigger philanthropists in the Jewish world today. Birthright, Yad Vashem, medical centers, college campuses, you name it- the Adelsons are doing it. Thank you, thank you both, for all that you do for the Jewish people and the Jewish state," he said of Adelson's contributions to Israel.
Netanyahu's warm words, which were part of a speech he made at the event, come as back home Israel is reeling from daily developments in the multiple corruption probes against him.
Adelson, who is considered to be especially close to the prime minister, is the owner of the Israeli daily Israel Hayom, which is at the center of Case 2000. The latter is a police probe revolving around the suspicion that the premier offered the publisher of Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot Arnon (Noni) Mozes that he would limit the circulation of the free Israel Hayom, its biggest rival, in return for better coverage in Mozes' paper. Many in Israel consider Israel Hayom to be Netanyahu's mouthpiece.
Also spotted at the high-profile event honoring Sharansky alongside the prime minister and his wife was former American President George W. Bush as well as Israeli Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
The prime minister thanked Bush in his speech as well, saying: "As the prime minister of Israel, I thank you for everything you did as president of the United States to defend freedom around the world and in the Middle East."
Netanyahu arrived at the event after participating and making a keynote address at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, D.C.
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Netanyahu received a warm embrace from the crowds at AIPAC, while in Israel his confidant and former aide Nir Hefetz signed an agreement to turn state's evidence in a different corruption probe the premier is embroiled in- Case 4000, which centers on allegations that Netanyahu gave benefits to Shaul Elovitch, owner of Israeli telecom giant Bezeq, in return for better coverage in the news website Bezeq owns, Walla.