Israel-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, one of the key figures in Case 1000 against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is reportedly at odds with his lawyer, who is expected to jump ship and head Netanyahu’s defense team.
The expected departure of attorney Boaz Ben Zur has created a deep rupture between Ben Zur and Milchan, according to a Saturday report by Channel 12 news.
Milchan reportedly sent a scathing letter to Ben Zur, expressing his displeasure with the move. Ben Zur is expected to represent Netanyahu in Cases 2000 and 4000, the report said.
Milchan is a central figure in Case 1000, one of three corruption cases in which Netanyahu faces criminal charges, pending a hearing. According to the attorney general, Milchan and James Packer, an Australian billionaire, gave Netanyahu and his wife gifts amounting to NIS 701,146 ($195,000), most of it cigars and champagne, in exchange for favors.
Hadas Klein, personal assistant to both Milchan and Packer and a witness in the case, is also irked by Ben Zur’s expected departure, the report said.
Earlier this month, Channel 13 reported that Netanyahu was seeking to beef up his defense team and was looking at hiring attorneys Ben Zur and Dror Matityahu.
In late May, Netanyahu’s attorney Navot Tel-Zur said he was stepping down from the defense team in the graft cases against the premier, following disagreements in recent weeks over lack of payment, with responsibility for the cases falling exclusively to attorney Amit Hadad.
Netanyahu faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000. He also faces those charges in a pair of other investigations known as cases 2000 and 4000. The attorney general has also recommended Netanyahu be charged with bribery in Case 4000.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said he intends to indict Netanyahu, pending a hearing. Neither Milchan nor Packer have been charged.
Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing with Mandelblit is scheduled for October 2-3, after Mandelblit declined earlier this month to delay it due to the September 17 elections.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a political witch hunt.