Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former chief of staff Ari Harow.
(photo credit: MIRIAM ALSTER/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow, who turned state’s witness on Friday, told his associates that he did not turn his back on Netanyahu, and that he does not believe his actions were criminal.
Harow told friends last week that his decision to become a state’s witness is nothing like that of Shula Zaken, former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s personal secretary, who testified against him and essentially criminalized him by providing evidence that led to his sentencing “It is nothing like it,” said Harow, as was reported on Channel 2 on Sunday.
“It is not that I broke the law with Netanyahu and now I am looking for a way to blame it on him so I can get away with it. I am being blamed for something that has nothing to do with me... It is not a situation in which either me or him [Netanyahu] is going to jail, but whether I am going to jail without a reason or not.”
Harow added that people think that being a state’s witness means that someone from inside is coming to rat on their boss, but he believes that it is not true. “Case 2000 is not an affair that I opened; it is something that I was caught up in unwillingly...
It will take time, but people will understand that I am not what they thought as a state’s witness – not in the charges I have against me, and not in the deal I’ve signed.”
Harow also said that the actions by Netanyahu about which he testified are not criminal offenses.
“I didn’t think so then, and I don’t think so now,” he said.
“This is why the claim that I came there to ‘rat on Netanyahu’ is not true. I don’t think like that.”
Regarding the investigation against him, Harow said that the charges are baseless.
“I did not do anything regarding my company without consulting a lawyer,” he said. “In other circumstances I would have gone to battle, but in this situation it seems pointless.”
Harow stressed that his time serving under Netanyahu was perceived by him as an act of Zionism.
“I came there to serve – twice – because of Zionism, because I was called to duty,” he said. “This is the reason I made aliya, and why I am raising my children here. I am proud of the time I served the public under Netanyahu. I have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Harow is suspected of bribery, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering over allegations he advanced his business interests while employed at the Prime Minister’s Office.
Channel 10 reported on Sunday that the sum of Harow’s money laundering is estimated at $10 million.
The charges against Harow will be reduced and he will not serve time in prison, according to his state’s witness deal.
He will be sentenced to six months of community service, and a NIS 700,000 fine.
Channel 2 reported on Sunday that a battle between Netanyahu’s aides inside his office, who leaked information to the police, led to Harow’s investigation in the first place.
It was also reported that other businessmen close to Netanyahu are planning to testify in these cases.
Last week it was reported that the police had finished their questioning of Harow before he signed the deal, but he still may be summoned for further verifications. Investigators might also stage a confrontation between him and the prime minister.
Harow’s testimony – according to reports, but with the limitation of a court-issued gag order – shed light on three police cases: In Case 1000 (the “Gifts Affair”), he revealed more names of people who allegedly gave gifts to Netanyahu; in Case 2000 (the “Israel Hayom Affair”), Harow provided significant information regarding the conversations between Netanyahu and Yediot Aharonot
publisher Arnon Mozes; and in Case 3000 (the “Submarine Affair,” in which Netanyahu is not a suspect), Harow provided more details, but it is still unclear what will be the nature of his testimony.
The Channel 2 report said Harow testified that Netanyahu had asked him to take actions that related to the prime minister’s conversations with Mozes, but the details are still unclear.