Talks With ex-Netanyahu Aide to Turn State Witness Is 'Making Progress'

Ari Harrow, Netanyahu's former chief of staff, could shed light on two different cases that could get the prime minister in trouble

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said Thursday that progress was being made in talks with a former top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about turning state witness.

Speaking during a ceremony at the Supreme Court, Mendelblit said "we're making progress" and that the prosecution was "working with the police" on getting Ari Harow, Netanyahu's former chief of staff, to become state witness. He asked reporters to "let us work in peace and find the truth."

According to recent reports by Haaretz, the information he provided allegedly indicated criminal connections between Harow, the prime minister and people in the prime minister’s circles.

Ari Harow (L) beside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, September 8, 2016.
Dan Balilty/AP

>> Profile: Who is Ari Harow? Netanyahu’s trusted aide, now possibly his worst enemy >>

Harow served for two terms in key positions in the Prime Minister’s Office. In 2009 he was appointed bureau chief, he left after a year to pursue private business interests and in 2014 he came back, 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.