Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara once harangued Miriam Adelson, wife of billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, demanding that she fire the editor of the Adelson-controlled Israel Hayom daily, an Israeli news site claimed on Monday.
The Ynet report cited purported police transcripts from a late 2016 interrogation of Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, a longtime friend of the Netanyahus, who described the incident to police.
Sara Netanyahu complained that she “expected a much more strident defense from the Israel Hayom newspaper, and especially an attack by the paper on [Arnon] Noni Mozes [publisher of the competing Yedioth Ahronoth daily], an aggressive and targeted attack,” Milchan is quoted as telling police.
Milchan was describing events from two years earlier, when he was invited to dinner in late 2014 at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem together with the Netanyahus and the Adelsons.
During the dinner, the report claimed, Sara Netanyahu turned to Miriam Adelson, Israel Hayom’s publisher, and “aggressively” complained that the right-wing pro-Netanyahu daily was not doing enough to counter “the daily slander against her in the newspapers and the media.”
Netanyahu reportedly complained specifically that Miriam Adelson “isn’t doing enough on the issue, and that the right thing to do, in her opinion, is to replace Amos Regev, the paper’s editor, with another editor,” the report said, quoting Milchan’s testimony in the police transcripts.
Amos Regev left the paper in mid-2017, some 2.5 years later.
Milchan allegedly said that Sara Netanyahu did not “name him, but said the right thing to do was to appoint an ‘editor with balls,’ who would stridently defend Sara. If the paper doesn’t up its defense of her, she said, then her [Sara’s] blood will be on Miri [Adelson]’s hands,” the police transcript continued, describing Milchan’s testimony.
Milchan then reportedly told the investigators that the incident was deeply embarrassing to those present. “Miri [Adelson] was in shock from the attack. She tried to explain that she does everything she can under law [to back the Netanyahus], but then afterwards Miri told me she’s not willing to be in that situation any longer. Sheldon and Bibi [Netanyahu] were passive [during the exchange] and tried to calm things down. After the conversation, everyone left,” Milchan was quoted as saying.
In a statement, spokespeople for Sara Netanyahu called the report “lies and falsehoods…. For 20 years now, Sara Netanyahu has been slandered in the media with absurd falsehoods and evil lies, in a way that no other public persona has faced in Israel’s history. This criminal leak [of a police transcript] only proves what we have argued the entire time – that Sara Netanyahu has no influence in any media outlet whatsoever.”
Milchan’s testimony came as part of the police investigation dubbed “Case 1000,” the probe into accusations that the Netanyahus received gifts and benefits from billionaire benefactors, including Milchan, in exchange for favors.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has set pre-indictment hearings in Netanyahu’s three criminal cases, including Case 1000, for October 2-3.
Netanyahu’s other cases are “Case 2000,” which involves suspicions that Netanyahu agreed with Yedioth publisher Mozes to weaken Israel Hayom in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth; and Case 4000, widely seen as the most serious against the premier, involving suspicions that Netanyahu advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, in exchange for positive coverage from the Elovitch-controlled Walla news site.