Netanyahu and Co. Present: A Jungle in the Villa

From the prime minister, to his wife, to his son, to the billionaires, to the Mossad, to the National Security Council, to the lawyers, to the publishers, to the attorney general.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, January 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, January 2017. Credit: Emil Salman

Israeli billionaire Arnon Milchan bought hundreds of thousands of shekels worth of alcoholic beverages and cigars for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara. Australian billionaire James Packer gave flights, goodies and luxurious hospitality to Yair Netanyahu. It has been reported that Packer gave Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad, tickets to a performance by his then-girlfriend, singer Mariah Carey. He also let Cohen use his apartment in Tel Aviv.

Milchan and Packer are business partners in the security industry. Milchan served as the chief door opener and enjoyed free access to the prime minister. When Milchan and Packer set up a cyber company, they invited Cohen to join them as a partner. At that time Cohen was head of the National Security Council.

As head of the NSC, Cohen issued the policy and security assessment which koshered the gas deal that Netanyahu was pushing. Subsequently Netanyahu appointed him head of the Mossad. Cohens deputy at the NSC, Avriel Bar-Yosef, was appointed by Netanyahu to head the council but had to forgo the position. He was arrested and investigated on suspicions of bribery, money laundering, fraud and breach of trust in the course of his activity in the area of natural gas exports. Bar-Yosef also urged cancellation of the bidding process for acquisition of naval vessels to protect the offshore oil drilling platforms.

Bar-Yosefs close friend Miki Ganor was the middleman between the government of Israel and the German firm ThyssenKrupp, which owns the shipyard involved in the submarine and patrol boat deals. Netanyahu decided to increase the number of submarines purchased from the firm to nine, contrary to the opinion of the defense minister, Moshe Yaalon. In Germany they estimated that Ganors brokerage fees in the submarine and boat deals were somewhere between 10 million and 30 million euros.

Ganor was introduced to the Germans by attorney David Shimron. It is suspected that the two of them also worked together vis-à-vis the Haifa Port to privatize the matter of the guard vessels. Shimron is a relative of Netanyahu as well as his lawyer. Shimrons brother-in-law, attorney Isaac Molho, also represents Netanyahu and has served as his diplomatic emissary. The Shimron-Molcho law firm represented the convicted French crook Arnaud Mimran in Israel. A company Mimran owns is registered in Israel at the address of the Shimron-Molho firm. Mimran hosted Netanyahu on his yacht and has stated that he transferred money to the prime minister.

Netanyahu phoned U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry three times to help arrange Milchans American visa. Kerry held shares in the gas company Noble Energy and did not refrain from involvement in contacts between it and the government of Israel. Sheldon Adelson turned to Netanyahu in his capacity as chairman of the U.S.-Israel Business Initiative, in which Nobel Energy is a partner, with a request to expedite the regulation in the natural gas industry.

Adelson is a business partner of Packer in the gambling industry. He is also the publisher of Israel Hayom, the newspaper distributed for free that supports Netanyahu, which until 2014 lost NIS 730 million. Netanyahu held discussions with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the veteran daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, about weakening Israel Hayom in exchange for favorable coverage in the Yedioth group. In the police investigation of this matter, Netanyahu is represented by attorney Jacob Weinroth. Weinroth also represents Packer. He met with Interior Minister Aryeh Dery at the ministry with a request to arrange permanent residency status for Packer.

This is the story. A jungle of connections and interests. One hand washes the other, scratch my back and Ill scratch yours. Cast your bread upon the waters. Sometimes you cant see the jungle for the trees. But it can be seen. All it takes is a birds-eye view. This overview is supposed to be the bailiwick of Avichai Mendelblit, the attorney general and, in that capacity, legal adviser to the Netanyahu government. In his previous capacity he was Netanyahus cabinet secretary and trusted confidant.

Former Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, who headed the search committee for attorney general, held there was an built-in conflict of interests and opposed the appointment. Later, Mendelblit tarried in opening the investigations against Netanyahu and exposed them to the risk of coordinated testimony and evidence tampering. He has intervened in the work of the investigators and prevented them from taking obvious measures, for example questioning the prime minister, his wife and their son at the same time. The moment of truth, for him and for the rule of law, is nigh.

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