Police Question Sara Netanyahu, Left-wing Lawmaker as Part of Netanyahu Corruption Probes

Benjamin Netanyahu and his family allegedly received gifts from business tycoons in return for favors; Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel questioned over Israel Hayom bill.

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Sara Netanyahu on January 8, 2017.
Sara Netanyahu on January 8, 2017.Credit: Rami Shllush
Sharon Pulwer
Jonathan Lis

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, testified to police recently regarding allegations she and her husband have been involved in giving and receiving various gifts and benefits to businesspeople.

Israeli Knesset member Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union) also gave police a brief testimony two days ago regarding a second scandal involving the prime minister, in which Netanyahu allegedly negotiated with the publisher of the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth in an effort to gain more positive coverage.

Allegations in the first case claim that wealthy tycoons, including Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, were asked to purchase expensive products for the Netanyahus, including cigars and champagne in amounts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels.

The second scandal alleges that the prime minister told Mozes he would support a bill to seriously weaken Yedioth Ahronoth's main competitor, Israel Hayom, in exchange for friendly coverage in Mozes' publications.

Cabel, the main sponsor of the Israel Hayom bill, was asked by police if he was aware of the relationship between Mozes and Netanyahu or of the negotiations between the two that were recorded on audio tape. According to Cabel, he was not asked about the bill itself or favors that Yedioth Ahronoth gave to lawmakers who pushed for the bill.

At the beginning of the week, Channel 10 reported that police had searched Milchan's office and found receipts for the purchase of cigars and other gifts for Netanyahu adding up to over 400,000 shekels. According to the Channel 10 report, additional receipts for gifts worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of shekels were found in the offices of Australian billionaire James Packer.

The report said that Packer indirectly funded gifts and other benefits for the prime minister and his family. One month ago, journalist Raviv Drucker reported on Channel 10 that Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister's son, lived last summer in an apartment owned by James Packer in the Royal Beach hotel in Tel Aviv. 

According to Drucker, Packer's lawyer, Jacob Weinroth, with Interior Minister Arye Dery to request and Packer receive permanent residency status in Israel. It has also been reported that Packer's favors to Yair Netanyahu didn't stop at hosting him in his high-end apartment in Tel Aviv, but also included vacations, private flights and rooms in expensive hotels.

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