PM given until end of week to disclose finances in request for legal funds
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PM given until end of week to disclose finances in request for legal funds

TV report says if Netanyahu doesn’t meet deadline, Permits Committee will again deny his appeal for wealthy benefactor to foot his defense bill

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on May 19, 2019. (Ariel Schalit/ Various Sources/ AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem on May 19, 2019. (Ariel Schalit/ Various Sources/ AFP)

A key oversight committee has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until the end of the week to disclose information about his personal finances as part of the premier’s request to have a wealthy benefactor help foot his defense bills in a series of corruption cases, Israeli television reported Sunday.

If Netanyahu does not meet the deadline, the Permits Committee in the State Comptroller’s Office will reject his request, according to Channel 13 news.

The reported ultimatum came after the Permits Committee said last week that the prime minister must first provide details of his assets before it would weigh his request for financial help for a third time. The panel refused to grant his attorney a meeting to explain why Netanyahu’s assets should remain private.

The Permits Committee said that it expects the prime minister to first comply with a High Court decision from March in which Netanyahu agreed to provide any details the committee requested. Netanyahu had appealed to the High Court after the committee, for the second time, refused to grant permission for donors to pay the prime minister’s legal fees in the corruption cases.

Spencer Partrich (Courtesy)

Netanyahu’s defense team said it would not comply with the committee request to hand over a declaration of assets, as well as the full details of the relationship between Netanyahu and Spencer Partrich, a billionaire from whom he has requested to receive funds to cover his legal fees.

Netanyahu had also sought to receive money for his legal defense from his cousin, US businessman Nathan Milikowsky, but recently said he was withdrawing the request, and would instead appeal for funding from Partrich.

Netanyahu has previously unsuccessfully sought permission from Israeli authorities for Milikowsky to fund his legal defense in the three corruption cases the prime minister is facing.

In February the Permits Committee ruled for a second time that wealthy acquaintances could not cover Netanyahu’s defense bills. It first turned him down in December.

The panel said it was inappropriate for non-Israeli benefactors to pay for the prime minister’s legal defense in a criminal case relating to his alleged receipt of gifts from wealthy benefactors in Israel and abroad.

The committee also ruled that money Netanyahu had already received from associates for his legal defense was improper and ordered him to return $300,000 to Milikowsky, and to give back business attire to Partrich.

The committee demanded that Netanyahu exhaust his own means of funding his defense before seeking financial help elsewhere.

Milikowsky and Partrich were questioned by police last year in the investigation dubbed Case 1000, in which the prime minister is suspected of receiving some NIS 1 million ($282,000) in illicit gifts from businessmen.

In February, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to indict Netanyahu, pending a hearing, in that case, as well as in two others, dubbed by police as Cases 2000 and 4000.

The prime minister denies all the allegations.

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