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Netanyahu’s Trusted Aide, Now Possibly His Worst Enemy

Ari Harow, who is currently in talks with police to become a state witness, has been by Netanyahu's side for many years and knows everything about the prime minister's finances, contributions and trips

Ari Harow (L) beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, September 8, 2016.
Dan Balilty/AP

Ari Harow is considered the man who knows everything about the money, donations and trips of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Indeed, the two go back many years.

In 2002, he served as Netanyahu’s adviser on foreign relations. The following year, Harow returned to his native United States in order to take up the position of director of the American Friends of the Likud until 2006. During his tenure he was asked to pay Netanyahu’s media adviser, Odelia Karmon, a salary of $3,500 a month for ostensibly working for the organization, when in fact she was working solely for Netanyahu, in particular managing his ties with foreign millionaires and in organizing his and his family’s trips abroad.

When he returned to Israel he replaced Ayelet Shaked as Netanyahu’s bureau chief. When Netanyahu was elected prime minister in 2009, he became one of the most important people in Netanyahu’s circle. Less than a year later, in 2010, he suddenly decided to resign his position, telling others in the Prime Minister’s Office that it was for health reasons.

Between 2010 and 2014 Harow worked in business. He established two consulting companies, Strategic Capital and H3 Global. In each company Harow tried to exploit the connections he had made over the years in the political and business worlds. After nearly four years, he returned to the political arena, this time in the most senior position around Netanyahu – chief of staff, replacing Gil Sheffer. But less than a year later he left that position to manage Likud headquarters during the campaign for the 2015 elections.

It later emerged that Harow, when he became bureau chief, had committed to selling H3 Global and to avoid further involvement with it had showed the Prime Minister’s Office legal adviser, Shlomit Barnea-Farago, a contract showing that he had sold H3 Global to a foreign firm located on Manhattan’s Third Avenue for $3 million. An examination, however, showed that while some payments were made to Harow, they were not in keeping with the sales contract, which raised suspicions that the sale had been fictitious and that Harow was continuing to manage the firm and exploiting his senior position for the company’s benefit.

In February the police recommended that Harow be indicted for bribery, fraud, breach of trust, aggravated fraud and money laundering. The case was transferred to the prosecution but was quickly returned to the police for further investigation.

In an interview with TheMarker, a man who worked with both Harrow and Netanyahu described Harow as “A very sophisticated man, who knows how to get what he wants quietly, without bells and whistles. If there’s an objective and you have to do 1,2,3 – he’ll achieve it, but generally in a different way than what is typical around Bibi [Netanyahu], without blows and battles. Very sophisticated but always under the radar. He doesn’t do interviews, doesn’t go to events and parties and doesn’t draw fire. He’s not the type you would say needs to be watched. He’s a good American kid who doesn’t look like a crook.”

The same sources added, “Harow was involved in everything connected with Bibi’s trips to the United States and his fundraising, but these things were done quietly and no one in the bureau knew who, what and how. Harow is the only one who knows those things, other than perhaps Bibi himself.”