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For promotion, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen pledged loyalty to Netanyahus — report

Testimony by Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan to police said to reveal Cohen urged him to lobby premier to give him the national security adviser job in 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Mossad head Yossi Cohen during a toast for the Jewish New Year on October 2, 2017. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Mossad head Yossi Cohen during a toast for the Jewish New Year on October 2, 2017. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The current head of the Mossad spy agency, Yossi Cohen, promised to be loyal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara when he sought the position of national security adviser in 2013, according to previously unpublished testimonies in a graft investigation against the premier.

According to a Channel 13 news report on Wednesday, which didn’t cite a source, the details were revealed in the testimony given to police by Hollywood-based Israeli movie mogul Arnon Milchan — who allegedly gave Netanyahu lavish illicit gifts, the subject of one of the three cases against the prime minister — and Milchan’s assistant Hadas Klein.

Cohen allegedly contacted Milchan in 2013, when Cohen was a senior Mossad official, and pressured Milchan to promote his candidacy for head of the National Security Council.

Milchan apparently agreed, and after a meeting told Cohen the Netanyahus “appreciate loyalty.” Cohen promised to be loyal to them, according to the reported testimonies.

Later, Cohen allegedly asked Milchan what Sara Netanyahu thought about him, and the businessman assured him that she thinks positively of him.

Cohen got the job, and after three years was appointed Mossad chief.

In both roles, he has been considered one of the closest confidants of Netanyahu, who has been accused of using the Mossad and the National Security Council — today headed by Meir Ben-Shabbat, another Netanyahu ally — to circumvent the Foreign Ministry in brokering normalization deals with Arab countries.

Cohen has been regarded as Netanyahu’s “shadow warrior” in many covert efforts, including the battle against Iran’s nuclear program, and is seen as the premier’s preferred successor.

Cohen denied the report to Channel 13. Sara Netanyahu commented that she “rejects the crude lie told time and time again as if she is connected in any way to certain appointments.”

The prime minister didn’t immediately comment on the report.

Arnon Milchan (left) and Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in the Knesset on March 28, 2005. (Flash90)

The investigations against Netanyahu yielded corruption charges in three criminal cases, and the evidence phase of the trial is set to begin in the coming weeks.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu is accused of fraud and breach of trust for illicitly accepting some $200,000 in gifts such as cigars and champagne from two billionaires, Milchan and Australian magnate James Packer.

Netanyahu faces the same charges in Case 2000, in which he is accused of attempting to reach a quid pro quo with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes for positive media coverage in exchange for legislation weakening rival newspaper Israel Hayom. Mozes was charged with bribery in the case.

And he faces charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in Case 4000, which involves suspicions that he granted regulatory favors benefiting Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq telecoms, in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister and his family from the Bezeq-owned Walla news site. The Elovitches also face bribery charges in the case.

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