Israeli police interviewed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for the fifth time in relation to corruption investigations.
The Fraud Investigations Unit interviewed the Prime Minister for four hours at his residence as part of “Case 1000” and “Case 2000”. In the first case, Netanyahu and his family are suspected of accepting expensive gifts, including cigars, pink champagne and jewellery, allegedly in return for advancing the interests of several wealthy benefactors, including the Hollywood producer and media magnate Arnon Milchan.
The police have more evidence in that case after Netanyahu’s former chief of staff Ari Harow became a state witness, and interviews with Milchan in London.
The police claim that Netanyahu assisted Milchan in arranging his US visa in exchange for the gifts. Earlier this week Israel’s Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, was interviewed by Police. It is also claimed that Netanyahu contacted the then-US State Secretary John Kerry three times to help Milchan receive a US visa, as well as taking steps to protect Milchan’s investment in the Channel 10 franchise.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and says that he only helped Milchan because of his long standing contribution to Israel’s security. Milchan reportedly told the investigators that he was forced to recruit other donors to share the burden of funding Netanyahu’s expensive gifts.
Netanyahu was also interviewed about his involvement in “Case 2000,” where he allegedly sought a deal to get more favourable coverage from one of Israel’s leading newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, in return for helping to limit a competitor, Israel Hayom.
Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Mozes allegedly told Netanyahu in one of their discussions: “We worked things out wonderfully in the 2009 elections. Have you forgotten?”
The police did not release any details about the interview with the Prime Minister but Netanyahu said on social media: “I’ll say it again this evening, with total confidence: there will be nothing, because there was nothing!”
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and State Attorney Shai Nitzan, who received a report about the investigation’s findings last night, will shortly receive the transcripts from Netanyahu’s interviews and make a decision about whether to continue the investigation.