Netanyahu Staying at U.S. Billionaire's Jerusalem Villa for Free, Report Says

The former prime minister, on trial for receiving gifts from billionaires, has been holding personal events and work meetings at duty-free magnate Simon Falic's Jerusalem home, the Walla news website reported

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Leader of Israeli Opposition Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset last month.
Leader of Israeli Opposition Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset last month.Credit: AMMAR AWAD/ REUTERS

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been staying part-time at a Jerusalem home belonging to American billionaire duty-free magnate Simon Falic, holding personal events and work meetings at Falic's villa free of charge, Hebrew news site Walla reported Tuesday. 

According to the report, several sources confirmed that the former prime minister and his wife have been staying there regularly in recent weeks despite the fact that they own their own villa in an upscale neighborhood of Caesarea as well as two other homes in Jerusalem.

The Falic family of Florida, owners of the ubiquitous chain of Duty Free Americas shops, is one of Netanyahu’s biggest donors and a large supporter of the settlement enterprise, pouring millions of Dollars into the West Bank, including the Jewish community in Hebron and groups pushing for the establishment of a Third Temple in Jerusalem.

The family, which also supported former U.S. President Donald Trump, also owns the Psagot Winery in the West Bank and has been previously investigated over possible involvement in a scandal in which Netanyahu was suspected of allowing donors to finance his trips abroad, and allegedly billed a trip to two different sources.

A spokesman for the Falics told Walla that “the Falic and Netanyahu families have been friends for decades. We cherish this connection, and look forward to many years of celebrating Jewish holidays and family celebrations together.”

Simon and Jana Falic pose for a photo as they participate in a blessing during the Jewish holiday of Passover, at the Western Wall, Jerusalem, April 22, 2019.Credit: Tsafrir Abayov / AP

Netanyahu is currently on charges that he and his wife Sara Netanyahu improperly received lavish gifts from Hollywood businessman Arnon Milchan and billionaire James Packer. He is accused of having received cigars and champagne from the two over the course of several years.

Last month, Milchan’s personal assistant, Hadas Klein, reportedly told police that that her boss and Packer delivered three bracelets to Sara Netanyahu,  including one valued at $45,000. In her deposition, Klein stated that Sara Netanyahu had asked for the jewelry.

Netanyahu’s defense team is arguing that “it is permitted to receive gifts from friends.” According to Netanyahu’s attorneys, Milchan gave him the gifts because the two are friends, and Netanyahu was not aware of the requests made by his family members.

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