New details have been revealed in one of the cases pending against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, highlighting his questionable relationship with businessmen James Packer and Arnon Milchan.
In what is known as Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of receiving illegal gifts and favors from Packer and Milchan in exchange for advancing their business interests.
In testimony to police, excerpts of which were aired by Channel 12 news Friday night, Hadas Klein, personal assistant to the two magnates, recounted the Netanyahu family’s dubious requests from Packer.
Klein said Packer was introduced to Netanyahu by Milchan in the summer of 2013.
“Packer was enchanted by Netanyahu. The Netanyahu family was enchanted by the possibility of using him,” she said. “Packer bought the villa adjacent to the Netanyahu family [in Caesaria]. Netanyahu was personally involved in the purchase with a realtor.”
She said the Netanyahu family wanted an open passage between the homes but the Shin Bet security agency, responsible for the prime minister’s security, objected strongly. “The Netanyahu family asked for and received a key from Packer,” she said.
The charges against Netanyahu include claims the family would take items from Packer’s home in his absence.
Klein said that on Memorial Day of 2016, Sara Netanyahu contacted her and asked that Packer and Milchan pitch in for the renovation of the family’s private pool as state officials had approved work for up to NIS 70,000 ($19,600), but the family wanted a contractor who demanded NIS 120,000.
The prime minister would often swim in Packer’s pool, said Klein. Asked why he did not use his own, Sara told Klein: “Ours isn’t heated, and it’s so expensive to heat.”
Klein also recounted an event on the eve of former president Shimon Peres’s funeral in September of 2016. Sara, she said, called her at 1 a.m. and asked her to send some of Packer’s razors and shaving cream to Jerusalem for the prime minister to use.
When told Packer used items available at every common supermarket, Klein said that Sara responded: “It’s really, really expensive. Do you want him to be unshaven for the funeral? Because of you he won’t be clean shaven for the funeral.”
Packer’s driver was subsequently sent to Jerusalem to deliver the items, an 80 minute drive at the best of times.
Klein also said that ahead of the prime minister’s birthday, Sara asked that the businessmen purchase him a coat from the Columbia brand as it “really suits Bibi.” When the coat was given, the prime minister’s wife was unsatisfied.
“And what about me? I don’t have a coat,” she reportedly said. “We’re going up north to celebrate our anniversary and it’s so cold there. Do you want us not to celebrate our anniversary?”
Sara received a coat as well, Klein said.
The requests were not exclusively on behalf of the prime minister. After the premier decided that the couple’s son Yair could not join Packer for a cruise on his yacht, Sara called and demanded he be allowed to sail, Klein said. When told the yacht was full, she demanded another one be ordered. Packer acquiesced.
Klein said that following an argument with the prime minister’s wife, the premier called her and asked her to submit to Sara’s demands.
“Sara is a wonderful woman, do everything she asks,” Klein recounted him saying in her testimony to police. “Stop being on the side of the media. Stop being a leftist.”
A spokesman for the prime minister said the report was “packed with lies” and “intended only to continue the character assassination against the Netanyahu family. The public didn’t buy it before the election and doesn’t buy it now.”
He also said the family would demand action against illegal leaks from the investigation. “When will police finally begin investigating even one of these crimes?”
The report follows previous reveals from the investigation earlier this week, including a claim that the prime minister contacted Klein multiple times during 2016’s Memorial Day requesting cigars from Milchan.
According to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, the prime minister and his wife received gifts amounting to NIS 701,146 ($195,000), with NIS 477, 972 ($130,000) worth of cigars, champagne and jewelry from Milchan, and NIS 229, 174 ($75,000) worth of cigars and champagne from Packer.
Mandelblit said he intends to indict Netanyahu, who has denied wrongdoing, with fraud and breach of trust in the case, pending a hearing. Neither Milchan nor Packer were charged.
Details of testimonies in the case have begun coming to light in recent days after Netanyahu’s lawyers collected the case files in the corruption investigations against him, after more than a month of refusing to accept the material. The defense team has been accused of trying to delay a pre-indictment hearing currently scheduled to take place no later than July 10. They have claimed the delay was caused by unresolved issues with their payment.
A spokesman for Netanyahu has blamed the state for the attorneys not being paid, citing officials’ refusal to allow wealthy foreign benefactors to foot the prime minister’s legal bills.
Netanyahu’s attorneys are locked in a battle with the Permits Committee in the State Comptroller’s Office over his request to fund his defense with the help of overseas financiers. The committee has already rejected the request twice. On Sunday, it said it will only consider it for a third time once Netanyahu divulges details on his own assets, something he has so far refused to do.
The panel said it was inappropriate for non-Israeli benefactors to pay for the prime minister’s legal defense in a criminal case that alleges he received illicit gifts from wealthy individuals in Israel and abroad.
In addition to Case 1000, Netanyahu has been accused of fraud and breach of trust in Case 2000, and bribery, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000.