'When Arnon Milchan Nags About U.S. Visa, Netanyahu Acts,' Tycoon's Aide Testifies

In final day of testimony before summer recess, Hadas Klein says that her boss Arnon Milchan felt he could get a hold of Netanyahu 'at the push of a button,' even when the latter was in official meetings

Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner
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Hadas Klein, an aide to billionaire Arnon Milchan and a key witness in Case 1000, at the Jerusalem District Court last week.
Hadas Klein, an aide to billionaire Arnon Milchan and a key witness in Case 1000, at the Jerusalem District Court last week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Josh Breiner
Josh Breiner

An aide to Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan told the court in the former prime minister's trial on Tuesday that her boss would call on Netanyahu when he needed a visa, and felt that he had access to the premier whenever he pleased, even when the prime minister was in government meetings.

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Hadas Klein said during her questioning that Milchan, who according to the former prime minister's indictment supplied the Netanyahu family with over $134,000 worth of cigars, champagne and jewelry, "didn’t need anything from Netanyahu, but when he needs his visa, he calls Netanyahu.”

She added that Milchan “didn’t intend to receive anything, any regulatory benefit for himself. He didn’t have businesses in Israel, other than Channel 10. As I saw it, Arnon didn’t expect Mr. Netanyahu would be involved in or help him with [business] projects.”

Klein is testifying in Case 1000, in which Netanyahu is accused of improperly receiving expensive goods in exchange for favors. The current testimony relates to allegations that the Netanyahu family accepted the gifts over an extended period from Milchan and that in return, Netanyahu, who was prime minister at the time, intervened with American officials to extend Milchan’s U.S. residence visa. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing, saying that he and Milchan were close friends, which is why he gave the family such gifts.

Netanyahu’s attorney Amit Hadad asserted that Milchan had no economic interests with Netanyahu. “When he gives them champagne, he doesn’t know that in the future that he will have a visa [issue].” Klein agreed, prompting Hadad to say: “Therefore it’s clear that he wasn’t giving the gifts for the visa.” Klein replied that this is correct.

Despite this, Klein noted, Milchan told her to call on Netanyahu for particular purposes, even when the prime minister was in meetings. She related that in 2016, a Cypriot accountant held a meeting with Milchan in Israel regarding an investment. The tycoon had questions regarding taxes, and sought to speak to the prime minister, who was then in a meeting with the president of Cyprus. "Arnon told me, 'get him now,'" Klein said. "I refused to call him, but the fact is that Arnon felt that he could talk to Netanyahu at the push of a button, that was the intention."

Hadad referenced Klein's 2017 police interrogation, in which the aide, who is not a defendant in the case, said that her predecessor in the role told her about the practice of providing champagne and cigars to the Netanyahus when she started the job. Klein confirmed this under cross-examination, but added that at the time, the gifts were given “in much smaller numbers.”

In response, Hadad said: “You don’t know anything about the interaction between Milchan and Netanyahu that led him to give them champagne.” Klein confirmed this, saying that she did not know.

To Hadad’s question regarding whether Milchan considers Netanyahu a close friend, Klein said: “I confirm that they have spoken a lot.” She added, “I’ve never heard Milchan say, ‘He'll bring me business’ … but on the other hand, when Arnon nags about the visa, [Netanyahu] acts, because Arnon nags at an obsessive level.”

Tuesday was Klein’s final day of testimony before the court’s summer recess. The trial is to resume in September.

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