Report: Secret Plan Sought to Give Sheldon and Miriam Adelson Control of Hadassah Hospital

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Sheldon Adelson and Netanyahu.
Jewish American billionaire Sheldon Adelson, left, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, and Adelson's wife, Miriam.Credit: Eyal Warshavsky

The executive-director of the Israeli office of the Hadassah women's organization pursued a secret deal that would have given U.S. casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam control of parts of Hadassah University Hospital, Army Radio reported on Monday.

The secret plan was reportedly hatched among officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and involved with the hospital in 2014, while the institution struggled with a deficit of 1.25 billion shekels ($360 million). The crisis eventually resulted in a bailout plan funded by the Israeli government and the Israeli office of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization.

According to the report, the executive director of the latter organization, Audrey Shimron, wife of David Shimron, Netanyahu's lawyer, promoted the plan, which sought to privatize parts of the hospital and transfer their control into the hands of the Adelsons in return for an investment of $100 million meant to help save the institution from financial demise. The investment would have reportedly installed Miriam Adelson as the chairwoman of the Hadassah board of directors. 

In a conversation recorded in 2014 and obtained by Army Radio, Audrey Shimron said that the Adelsons are "very interested" in the plan, and that she was directly discussing the deal with them and with their "close associate." 

While Shimron made no direct mention of Netanyahu, political adviser and journalist Eldad Yaniv on Monday said he filed a complaint with the attorney general, asking him to investigate the plan and the prime minister's possible involvement. 

The Israeli branch of the Hadassah group told Army Radio it never considered privatization and isn't familiar with the plan. It further noted that only a permanent resident of Israel can serve as chairperson of the Hadassah board, even though in the recording Shimron raises the possibility that Miriam Adelson would serve at its helm. 

The Adelsons would not comment for the Army Radio report. Netanyahu's office, asked by the radio station whether he is familiar with the plan, said the prime minister "wasn't involved in the idea and didn't discuss it with Mrs. Audrey Shimron."

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