U.S. business magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam suffered verbal abuse from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara, despite their efforts to accommodate the premier's request to give him favorable coverage in the Israel Hayom daily that Adelson owns, Channel 13 News reported Wednesday.
Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, a key witness in Case 1000 – which focuses on suspicions that the premier received lavish gifts from tycoon friends – told police in his tesimony that he attended a dinner at the Prime Minister's Residence in which Netanyahu's wife lashed at the Adelsons.
"I was present at a dinner with Sheldon and Miri Adelson at the Netanyahus on Balfour [street]," Channel 13 quoted Milchan as saying in his tesimony. "Sara started screaming at Miri [Miriam Adelson]: 'You are spilling my blood, you are all spilling my blood.... You with your 'Bibi-paper' don't help at all, only ruin.'"
Milchan then said that Sheldon Adelson responded to the verbal assault by saying: "Calm down, we're doing the best we can. I lose 40-50 million dollars a year [on Israel Hayom] … We regularly write in your favor and you keep shouting at me."
According to Milchan's testimony, as cited by Channel 13, Sara Netanyahu continued screaming and then spoke badly of another one of her associates: U.S. businessman Ron Lauder, the former owner of Channel 10 News. "Ronald [Lauder] is not a friend, he is a traitor and evil and doing nothing in the channel for us."
The report also released quotes from Netanyahu's police interrogation in Case 4000 in which the prime minister is suspected of taking steps in favor of Bezeq shareholder Shaul Elovitch in return for favorable coverage in the telecom giant's Walla News website.
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Asked about his son Yair's ties to Elovitch, Netanyahu told his interrogators: "Yair has no clue, he doesn't know anything, he doesn't get such things." Netanyahu was also quoted by Channel 13 as saying that Yair "has his own perspective, and it doesn't always match the facts, to put it mildly."
In Case 4000, Netanyahu is facing charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing. In Case 1000, Netanyahu is facing charges of fraud and breach of trust, pending a hearing.
On Thursday, Netanyahu blasted the Channel 13 report, calling it a "ridiculous and transparent attempt to sway public opinion using ridiculous, false and evil gossip days before the election." Concerning the corruption cases he is embroiled in, Netanyahu said "the public already knows that the prime minister's cases are not based on facts but on a collection of false tabloid rumors."
This latest leak from the police investigations into Netanyahu's criminal cases comes after Channel 12 News released other details from the interrogations.
The Channel 12 report said that Miriam Adelson told police that Sara Netanyahu “once told me that if Iran gets nuclear weapons and Israel is wiped out, I’ll be to blame, because I’m not defending Bibi.”
Initially, Adelson said, Sara Netanyahu treated her and her husband, Sheldon Adelson, nicely. But as time passed, “there were only complaints.” For instance, “Her picture was too small. They didn’t write something [when] she visited some children with cancer or something. Complaints all the time. All the time. And it started to be unpleasant. We would listen; we’d hear it and not respond.”
The prime minister also complained about the coverage, she said, and particularly about the former editor in chief, Amos Regev, whom he termed “weak.” Asked what exactly he complained about, she said, “that we don’t defend him. That everybody’s attacking [him] ... That all the other newspapers smear him, one after the other, especially before elections.”
Eventually, Adelson said, she and her husband got fed up and stopped visiting the Netanyahus. “From the honored prime minister I would get screaming phone calls in the United States,” she said. And when she heard screaming, “I’d simply put the phone down” and pick it up again only when the screaming stopped, “which could be five or 10 minutes.”