Miriam and Sheldon Adelson reportedly told police that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara is “absolutely crazy” and obsessed with her physical appearance.
The comments from the billionaire owners of the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom tabloid came from transcripts published by Channel 13 on Sunday from the couple’s questioning in one of three corruption probes into the prime minister.
According to the transcripts, Sheldon Adelson told investigators that Sara “would tell my wife that ‘if Iran were to attack [Israel], it would be on your head, because we did not advertise favorable photos of her.'”
“She’s is absolutely crazy. She is obsessed with her photos and how she looks,” the casino mogul reportedly told police. “She told us, ‘I’m the first lady. I’m a psychologist and teach children about psychology!'”
In her testimony, Miriam Adelson reportedly told investigators that she pitied the prime minister’s wife.
“Bibi [Netanyahu] is smart. She [Sara] is just not healthy. As a doctor, I have compassion for unhealthy people. I treat addicts. She is not healthy,” she was quoted as saying.
Miriam recalled a dinner where Sara lost her temper and started screaming so loudly that the prime minister asked the Adelsons to leave.
“She screamed that I was sucking her blood. It was awful. She totally lost it. I hugged her and said to her, ‘Saraleh, it’ll be okay,'” Adelson recalled, according to the transcripts.
However, she also spoke more critically of Sara Netanyahu when discussing the prime minister’s wife’s disdain for former Jewish Home ministers and current Yamina candidates Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, both of whom formerly worked as Netanyahu aides.
“I was furious after the previous election when he [Netanyahu] was refusing to not build a coalition with Bennett because she [Sara] hates him,” Miriam Adelson said, in an apparent reference to the post-2015 election coalition negotiations when the prime minister reportedly weighed not including the Jewish Home in his government.
“I mean, the fate of the Jewish people is doomed because the lady hates Bennett and Shaked, so he does not make a coalition with the right man who fits,” Miriam Adelson told investigators.
She separately told police about how Sara Netanyahu had asked her to donate money to an NGO helping Moroccan Jews.
“Then she said a sentence that I did not like. She said: ‘He [the man affiliated with the NGO] helps us with the elections in Ashdod or something,’ so we gave him the honor and heard him out, but he didn’t get a single penny from us,” Miriam Adelson recalled.
Sheldon Adelson also told police that Sara had tried to get former Israel Hayom editor Amos Regev fired and replaced with Nir Hefetz, the Netanyahu family’s most trusted spokesman. Hefetz turned state’s witness last year in a series of corruption investigations implicating the prime minister.
Responding to the Channel 13 report, a spokesman for the prime minister called it another “criminal” leak punishable by up to three years in prison.
“Apart from the names mentioned, there is not one word of truth in your false report. A pile of twisted and vicious lies whose entire purpose is to hurt Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife on the eve of an election,” the spokesman said in a statement.
Last Friday, Channel 12 released additional excerpts from the Adelsons’ police interrogation, during which Miriam Adelson reportedly said Sara Netanyahu tried to get her to buy her expensive gifts and also tried to have the paper’s political correspondent fired.
According to those transcripts, Adelson told investigators that “she once showed me a necklace. She said that Arnon (Milchan) had bought it for her, Tiffany, or something like that.” Asked by the investigator how she had hinted at wanting gifts, Adelson replied: “If someone shows you… and you are a billionaire and someone shows you a watch and says, ‘Look at this Rolex, this is the one someone bought me,’ doesn’t it hint that you also want?”
Long seen as steadfast friends, the leaked transcripts present a different side to the relationship between the Adelsons and the Netanyahus. The casino mogul and his wife have been key backers of Netanyahu and the founding of the Israel Hayom paper was seen as a move to give Netanyahu positive media coverage.
On Thursday, it was revealed that the relationship devolved from friendly into “constant complaints” and even “screams on the phone” on the part of the Netanyahus, mostly Sara, to the point where Miriam Adelson would set the receiver down so she would not have to hear the shouting.
The Adelsons were questioned as witnesses by police in an investigation dubbed “Case 2000,” involving a suspected illicit quid pro quo deal between the prime minister and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes beginning in 2009 that would have seen Netanyahu weaken Israel Hayom, Yedioth’s main rival, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.
Under the alleged agreement, which was not implemented, the prime minister offered to advance legislation to curb the circulation of Israel Hayom by outlawing freebie newspapers — if Mozes instructed his reporters and op-ed writers to soften their often negative stance toward him.
In Case 1000, the so-called gifts scandal, Netanyahu is suspected of “systematically” demanding benefits worth about NIS 1 million ($282,000) from billionaire benefactors, including Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, in exchange for favors. He has claimed that receiving gifts from friends does not constitute a conflict of interest.
The prime minister will face his pre-indictment hearing before Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in the case on October 2-3.
The hearing will cover an additional corruption probe, known as Case 4000. He faces expected charges of fraud and breach of trust in all three, and bribery in Case 4000.
In Case 4000, seen as the most serious of the three, the prime minister is suspected of offering regulatory benefits to the controlling shareholder of the Bezeq telecom giant, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for positive coverage of him and his family in the Elovitch-owned Walla news site.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing in all the cases against him.