A key witness in the corruption trial of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu testified Monday that Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, used to sketch pictures of jewelry she wanted Australian billionaire James Packer to purchase for her.
The witness, Hadas Klein, a personal assistant to Packer, said Sara Netanyahu would give her the drawings so she could go out to buy them.
The allegations in so-called Case 1000 revolve around luxury gifts the former prime minister and his family received and quid pro quos Netanyahu is accused of having provided in return.
Klein also worked as an assistant for Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.
Klein had previously described to the court how she was the conduit for a steady supply of premium cigars and champagne to the Netanyahus, goods she said were not volunteered by Milchan or Packer but rather were requested directly by the ex-premier and his wife.
Klein has previously testified that another Packer assistant bought a diamond-studded bracelet worth $46,000 for Sara Netanyahu, after she requested “something beautiful” ahead of the couple’s anniversary.
Netanyahu’s defense attorney Amit Hadad disputed Klein’s claims related to the value of the jewelry on Monday, presenting receipts showing that it was lower than what Klein claimed.
Hadad also said Klein’s testimony was incorrect regarding the location of the jewelry purchases, which Hadad showed were from the David Citadel in Jerusalem, and not from the Mamilla Mall, as Klein had previously said.
Klein acknowledged she only “partly remembered” the purchases, to which Hadad suggested perhaps she was confusing the gifts with those for someone else. Klein said, “[Sara] Netanyahu sketched what she wanted on a piece of paper, isn’t that enough?”
In Monday’s hearing, Klein also claimed that she concealed bottles of champagne in black bags at the Netanyahu’s Caesarea residence, to avoid neighbors seeing the expensive drinks.
“The sight of us moving boxes and champagne bottles to the prime minister — it looked really bad,” Klein said.
Hadad asserted that Klein had made the decision on her own, and that the Netanyahus had not asked her to hide the bottles.
The indictment in Case 1000 against the former prime minister accuses Netanyahu of violating conflict of interest laws when he provided Milchan with assistance in renewing his long-term US residency visa. It alleges that this — alongside Milchan’s supply of an estimated NIS 700,000 ($205,000) worth of cigars, champagne, jewelry and other luxury items to Netanyahu and his wife — constituted fraud and breach of trust.
Along with Case 1000, Netanyahu faces fraud and breach of trust charges in two other cases, as well as bribery in one of them. He has denied wrongdoing and claims without evidence that the charges were fabricated and part of a bid by the state prosecution and political rivals to end his career.