Netanyahu and Lapid.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's lawyer, Amit Hadad, responded Wednesday to the dramatic recommendations made by the police on Tuesday, saying that Netanyahu should be charged for receiving bribes in both cases: 1,000 and 2,000.
Israeli police recommend bribery charges against Netanyahu, February 13, 2018 (Reuters)
The recommendations were at the more serious end of the range of charges that had been expected to be leveled against Netanyahu in two criminal investigations that have gone on for more than a year.
One of the cases, known as Case 1000, alleged the "committing of crimes of bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu."
In a detailed statement, police named Arnon Milchan, a Hollywood producer and Israeli citizen and Australian businessman James Packer, saying that for nearly a decade, from 2007 to 2016, they gave gifts that included champagne, cigars and jewelry to Netanyahu and his family.
In all, the merchandise was worth more than one million shekels ($280,000), the statement said. Any legal proceedings will likely focus on whether political favors were sought or granted.
In return, Netanyahu allegedly helped Milchan obtain a US visa and aided him in business affairs in his various local media holdings.
The second case, Case 2000, also alleged "bribery, fraud and breach of trust by the prime minister" and by the publisher of the biggest-selling Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot
, Arnon Mozes. The two men, police said, discussed ways of slowing the growth of a rival daily newspaper, Israel Hayom
, "through legislation and other means."
"I do not think I ever saw a document so full of holes. The amounts in the recommendations are inflated and unrelated. The actual amounts are far lower," Haddad said in an interview to KAN Public Radio.
"Does it makes sense to you that the sum came out to be exactly NIS 1 million? I can not say exactly what the amount is, but it was inflated out of proportion... It's less than half a million," Hadad added. "Netanyahu did not receive a bribe. He received cigars from his friend. He did not act in any way to promote the interests of Milchan."
Hadad went on to argue that the police recommendations document was perforated and that the facts proved that Netanyahu had in fact often acted against his friend Milchan.
"He did not receive bribes at all, not every day, not at all. When the amounts are off, then everything else is flawed. There was no mention even of the two men's deep friendship," Hadad said.
Hadad attacked Netanyahu's political rival and the man who emerged as a key witness in the Case 1000 investigation, Yair Lapid, the former finance minister and current head of Yesh Atid.
"Who has the authority to extend the validity of Milchan's visa exemption? It's former minister of finance Yair Lapid, who worked for Milchan for years, and no one stops to ask themselves how he discussed his case. It wasn't mentioned that Yair Lapid sat with Milchan's teams to advance the law. "
Israelis have seen their leaders embroiled in legal trouble before. Last year, Ehud Olmert, prime minister from 2006 to 2009, was released from prison after serving 19 months of a 27-month sentence for a variety of corruption charges.Reuters, Udi Shaham and Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.