Netanyahus suspected of asking billionaire for coats — report

Police sources reportedly say indictment recommendations to be delayed for several weeks as officers investigate new information

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a snowball fight with his wife, Sara, and sons Avner and Yair at his residence in Jerusalem on January 10, 2013 (Avi Ohayon/GPO/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a snowball fight with his wife, Sara, and sons Avner and Yair at his residence in Jerusalem on January 10, 2013 (Avi Ohayon/GPO/FLASH90)

Police, who are gearing up to recommend an indictment against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly suspect that his wife, Sara, once asked the billionaire Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan for coats worth thousands of shekels.

She turned to Hadas Klein, an aide to Milchan, some two and a half years ago to order coats for the entire family, Channel 10 TV news reported Thursday. The coats, the report said, were purchased in Israel, but Klein later had to return some of them because Sara Netanyahu said they were defective and refused to accept them. Two or three of the coats that she did accept were intended for the prime minister, police reportedly suspect.

Investigators are likely to delay making recommendations in the two corruption cases against Netanyahu by at least six weeks, Hadashot TV news reported Thursday, citing police sources.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara (C) and their son Yair seen with actress Kate Hudson at an event held at the home of producer Arnon Milchan (right), March 6, 2014. (Avi Ohayon/GPO/Flash90)

The news station had reported last week that the recommendation would be made in the coming two to three weeks. On Thursday, police sources explained that the delay was due to new information, and the possibility that Netanyahu would be questioned for an eighth time.

Last week a police source confirmed to The Times of Israel that cops have completed the two investigations and are now working on preparing their indictment recommendations.

In its report Thursday, Hadashot said the investigation into suspected bribes received by the prime minister was more extensive than previously thought and stronger than his supporters were claiming.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit would not have approved an investigation lasting almost two years, which included multiple depositions overseas, if the case revolved only around a handful of cigars and some wine, police sources told the news channel. It was a reference to previous leaks from the investigation, which said Milchan had for years provided the Netanyahus with champagne and cigars worth hundreds of thousands of shekels.

On Wednesday, Hadashot reported that Milchan had gifted jewelry worth up to $2,500 (NIS 8,700) to Sara Netanyahu. According to the report, Milchan told police that she had demanded the gift for her birthday.

Milchan said he was uncomfortable giving her the jewelry because he was worried it would breach legal and ethical standards, the report said. But the Netanyahus insisted, and he was eventually reassured by the prime minister that it was legal, according to the report.

The report also said Milchan had told police he gave Netanyahu the cigars so as to remain in an influential position regarding issues affecting Israel, and gave champagne to Sara to keep her “calm” and give the prime minister “some quiet.”

Netanyahu himself appears to expect police to recommend charges against him, and last Tuesday struck a preliminary blow against law enforcement officials. In an address to a rally of Likud party members, the premier dismissed the upcoming police recommendations as meaningless.

“If there will be recommendations [to indict] — so what?” he said. “Here’s a fact I doubt the public knows: The vast majority of police recommendations end with nothing. More than 60 percent of police recommendations [to indict] are thrown out” — that is, do not result in the filing of an indictment by state prosecutors.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a rally with his supporters, in Tel Aviv, on December 19, 2017. (Flash90)

Netanyahu attacked law enforcement, alluding to unfair treatment at the hands of police.

“As early as January 2017, almost a year ago, the news item was miraculously leaked: The police will recommend an indictment against Netanyahu. They knew a year ago, even before the investigation,” he said. “Why did it take a year? A waste of time and public funds.”

Netanyahu is a suspect in two corruption investigations, known as cases 1000 and 2000. In the first, he and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors. Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Marissa Newman contributed to this report.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed