Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.
(photo credit: MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS)
Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, was questioned by Israeli authorities in relation to Case 1000, Channel 2 reported Tuesday. Dermer was questioned about working on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to secure a visa for businessman and movie mogul Arnon Milchan.
Case 1000 focuses on gifts — champagne, cigars, jets and hotels — valued at nearly $200,000 that the Netanyahu family received from Milchen and Australian casino giant James Packer.
The investigation regards allegations that Netanyahu and his wife Sara accepted illegal gifts of cigars, champagne and jewelry worth tens of thousands of shekels from Milchan.
While he is not a suspect in the case, Netanyahu’s son, Yair, gave testimony in January concerning suspicions that Australian billionaire James Packer gave him lavish gifts in a bid to influence his father.
Dermer is under questioning for intervening on behalf of Netanyahu and requesting a visa for Milchan from former United States Secretary of State John Kerry. Milchan currently lives in Los Angeles. The movie producer has been questioned multiple times about the case, most recently in London in September.
Milchan is a well-known Hollywood producer, serving as a producer on Academy Award-winning films Birdman, The Revenant and The Big Short. He founded the Hollywood-based entertainment company Regency Enterprises in 1991.
In April, Israeli police appeared ready to recommend Netanyahu's indictment in the case
, though no official charges have been filed against the prime minister.
At its current stage, the Case 1000 probe is focused on discerning whether anything was given to Netanyahu by Milchan and if so, what was exchanged. The investigation is also looking into the visa request and the possibility that Netanyahu intervened in the sale of Channel 2 news. Milchan is a shareholder of Channel 10 news, Channel 2 reported.
Netanyahu has not denied accepting gifts from Milchan but maintained the gifts were presents exchanged between friends and do not constitute bribery or a breach of trust. The prime minister denied any wrongdoing in the incident.
The United States State Department is blocking Israeli authorities access to former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro for questioning, Channel 2 reported. Gil Hoffman and Eliyahu Kamisher contributed to this report.