Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued his first response to the developments in two corruption cases against him and to the news that his former aide signed a deal to turn state's witness.
Speaking in a video he posted on his Facebook page, Netanyahu said: "There's no such thing as a week without a headline. I want to tell the citizens of Israel: I do not address background noises and I will continue to serve you."
The Israel Police confirmed on Thursday that the prime minister is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu's bureau rejected the allegations on Thursday, calling them "unfounded claims."
On Friday, Netanyahu's former chief of staff, Ari Harow, reached an agreement with the prosecution to turn state's witness in the two probes against the premier.
Under the deal, Harow will be convicted of fraud and breach of trust in a separate case, but will avoid jail time. Instead, he will do community service as pay a 700,000-shekel ($193,000) fine.
The two cases involving Netanyahu and Harow are known as Case 1000, which involves Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, who was asked to purchase luxury items for Netanyahu and his wife; and Case 2000, in which Netanyahu tried to concoct a deal with Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
Harow served for two terms in key positions in the Prime Minister’s Office. In 2009 he was appointed bureau chief, but left after a year to pursue private business interests before coming back in 2014, this time as chief of staff. In between he maintained “friendly contact” with the prime minister, as he attested in the past in an official document.
In 2015, Harow was arrested by the national fraud squad, on suspicions he was continuing to secretly operate a private lobbying and consulting business while he was the premier’s chief of staff. Last year, when the police began to examine matters pertaining to the prime minister, Harow landed in Israel and was immediately taken for questioning under warning, which meant he might be accused of a crime. The moves toward a state’s witness deal began at that time.
In recent months, as talks between Harow and legal officials picked up steam, the former Netanyahu aide supplied information on two key affairs: Allegations that the prime minister received gifts from wealthy benefactors, and secret negotiations Netanyahu allegedly held with the publisher of Israel's most popular newspaper in return for favorable coverage.
Harrow, Haaretz reported, played a major role in the so-called Netanyahu-Mozes affair, named after the prime minister and Arnon Mozes, the published of Yedioth Ahronoth. Harrow recorded some of the conversations on his iPhone, he took part in some of them and mainly, there are signs that Netanyahu asked Harow to take actions to find out whether the deal with Mozes could be clinched.
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