Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly offered at one time to nominate the billionaire Arnon Milchan for the role of Israeli president, in order to resolve issues regarding the latter’s entry visa into the US.
Milchan, an Israeli Hollywood film producer, is a key witness in Case 1000 of Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial.
The case — one of the three Netanyahu faces charges in — involves suspicions that the former premier illicitly accepted gifts, including cigars and champagne, from two billionaires, Milchan and Australian magnate James Packer.
It is also alleged that Netanyahu received from Milchan and Packer three bracelets for his wife Sara at her request, one of them worth $45,000, as well as luxury bags and clothing items for her.
Milchan was not charged in the case, while Netanyahu was indicted for fraud and breach of trust. He denies all wrongdoing.
Channel 13 news reported on Sunday that the offer that Milchan serve as president came to light during a recent refresher meeting between prosecutors and Milchan’s former assistant Hadas Klein, ahead of her testimony in the trial.
The report said that according to Klein, when the billionaire’s entry visa to the US was denied, Netanyahu, through his chief of staff, conveyed two offers to Milchan: a nomination for the role of president or an appointment as honorary consul in Los Angeles, both of which would allow him to enter the US without a visa.
Klein also reportedly told prosecutors that Netanyahu had pressed Milchan to hire a former employee at the Prime Minister’s Office named Idan.
When this did not go through, Netanyahu reportedly called Klein and jokingly quipped: “If you are willing to hire him, I’m willing to let go of the cigars.”
She also noted that on many occasions, the former prime minister would leave cabinet and party meetings when Milchan called him.
Netanyahu is on trial in three corruption cases. He faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000. He denies wrongdoing and says the charges were fabricated in a political coup, led by the police and state prosecution.
In Case 2000, Netanyahu is accused of attempting to reach a quid pro quo with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes for positive media coverage.
Case 4000 is the most serious of the three cases against the former prime minister. Netanyahu is alleged to have advanced regulatory decisions as communications minister and prime minister that immensely benefited media mogul Shaul Elovitch, who was the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, the country’s largest telecommunications firm, despite opposition from Communication Ministry officials. In exchange, he allegedly was given what amounted to editorial control over Elovitch’s Walla news site.