Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer was summoned to testify to the police regarding an alleged attempt to procure a U.S. visa for Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan through former Secretary of State John Kerry, Israel's Channel 2 News reported on Monday.
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According to the report, Dermer, considered close to Netanyahu, acted on the prime minister's behest to advance Milchan's interests. The allegations are being examined as part of a wider investigation into possible wrongdoing on Netanyahu's part.Dermer was reportedly questioned under caution.
In 2014, Haaretz reported that Netanyahu asked then U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to help Milchan get a ten-year U.S. visa, instead of the standard one year visa. Channel 10 news reported in January that Netanyahu was in direct contact with John Kerry on the issue.
Dermer's testimony is being investigated as part of the 'Case 1000' affair into possible wrongdoing by Benjamin and Sarah Netanyahu, accused of allegedly accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of gifts from Milchan.
In addition to the visa allegations, police are investigating suspicions that Netanyahu was involved with Milchan in regards to the Israeli media market. Haaretz reported that Netanyahu was possibly involved in the sale of Channel 10 to businessman Len Blavatnik in order to help Milchan, who held shares in Channel 10. Blavatnik - a partner in the RGE communications group, which holds a 15% share of the channel - competed for its ownership with Israeli businessman Ilan Shiloah.
Milchan testified to police last year that he gave the Netanyahus an estimated hundreds of thousands of shekel in the form of cigars, champagne and jewelry. Two months ago, Milchan was questioned under caution in London regarding the corruption allegations. The police are investigating what exactly Milchan got from Netanyahu in return for the gift.
Sources close to the Prime Minister responded to the report, saying "The wave of biased and illegal leaks continues - this time, in an attempt to discredit the prime minister only because he fulfilled his duty to preserve the security of the State of Israel.
"The reason the visa was revoked from Milchan had to do with Israeli security – [and] it is unacceptable that someone who contributed to the security of Israel would be penalized for his contribution, and that the prime minister would have no say in this. The prime minister has also turned to foreign governments in the situations of Meir Dagan [a former Mossad chief who has since passed away] and others who contributed to Israel."