Netanyahu’s Cousin Provides Testimony in Alleged Corruption Case

Prime Minister told investigators in January that a relative gave him the cash to buy cigars. Israeli TV channel reports state is expected to recommend indicting Sara Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu entering the Tel Aviv Magistrate Court, March 14, 2017.
Heidi Levine/AP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cousin gave testimony to the police as part of the investigation into alleged corruption, as part of what is called in Israel the "perks case", over the Passover holiday.

Nathan Milikowsky arrived in Israel about two weeks ago on a visit, and gave testimony to the police in the affair, which Israel’s Fraud Squad refers to as Case 1000, which involves allegations that he illegally accepted valuable gifts for himself and his family from business figures. Israel's Channel 1 reported about his testimony on Thursday.

According to the report, Milikowsky also asked to testify in the so-called submarine affair, referred to as Case 3000.

A statement on behalf of the prime minister discounted the report as a bunch of hot air.

“The prime minister’s cousin has helped him for decades, and it’s all permitted, above board and legal,” it asserted. “And regarding the submarine affair, the attempt to associate the prime minister to this affair is baseless and pathetic.”

Haaretz reported in January that Netanyahu told investigators that his relatives used to give him cash over the years to help fund his expensive smoking habit. He completely rejected the investigators’ narrative that for years he received a regular supply of expensive cigar boxes worth cumulatively hundreds of thousands of shekels.

Netanyahu asserted he paid for most of the cigars out of his own pocket, paying back in cash workers in his office who bought cigars for him. Netanyahu explained a relative gave him the cash.

Channel 10 on Thursday reported that the state is expected to recommend indicting the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, for fraudulent receiving in the Prime Minister’s Residence case. State Prosecutor Shay Nitzan, or Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, is expected to decide soon whether or not to press charges.

The Netanyahu family commented: “It is a disgrace that anyone is considering trying the prime minister’s wife based on false accusations.”