Report: Businessman Asks Netanyahu to Make a Decision in Return for Benefits

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairing the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, January 1, 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairing the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, January 1, 2017.Credit: GALI TIBBON/AFP

The main police investigation on Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu involves an Israeli businessman who allegedly tried to recruit the prime minister to work for him in return for benefits, Channel 2 News reported on Friday. The case includes documentation of "flagrant and extraordinary ties between business interests and government," the report said.

Channel 10 News reported that this well-known businessman tried to convince Netanyahu to make a certain decision, but it is unclear whether or not he in fact made this decision. As for the identity of the businessman, Channel 10 said it was not Shaul Elovitch, who owns Bezeq, nor Yitzhak Tshuva, who owns Delek Group.

Channel 10 also released more details on the relationship between Netanyahu and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan. On Thursday Haaretz reported that Milchan is a major player in the first case Netanyahu is being investigated for, according to which Netanyahu allegedly received benefits and gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, including cigars and champagne, from businesspeople. According to the report, in 2014 the prime minister spoke with Secretary of State John Kerry three times in order to help Milchan receive a 10-year visa to the United States. It was also reported that this intervention was apparently successful in solving Milchan's visa problems.

Netanyahu's attorney Jacob Weinroth spoke on behalf of Netanyahu Friday, saying that it was not illegal for a civil servant to receive cigars from friends. Weinroth did not deny that Netanyahu received the cigars, but said that this was not a "shred of a criminal offense."

Netanyahu was interrogated for five hours on Thursday in his official residence in Jerusalem, with relation to the more serious of the two cases. The police said that another coconspirator was interrogated in the past two days, and that no more details could be divulged because of fear that this would adversely affect the investigation.

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