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’s cell phone was the source of the police investigation of Case 2000, the “Yediot Aharonot affair,” but sources familiar with the probes told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that reports he was also the source for Case 1000 were “fabricated.”
Police found taped conversations on Harow’s phone between Netanyahu and Yediot Aharonot publisher Arnon Mozes that became the basis for the Case 2000 investigation.
Last week, the Hebrew press reported that Harow, who has turned state’s witness, submitted date books and information that became the smoking gun for incriminating Netanyahu in Case 1000, the “expensive gifts affair.”
The reports said Harow was involved in persuading then-finance minister Yair Lapid to back legislation that would extend a tax shelter for returning Israelis from one decade to two, in order to help billionaire Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan avoid paying taxes in Israel.
According to the reports, Milchan had lobbied for the change via Harow, who met with him on the issue.
While Lapid has been called a central witness by police, sources in the police later leaked to Hebrew media outlets that they first received key information from Harow and only then turned to Lapid to confirm the information.
But key sources familiar with the investigations said that reports of Harow’s involvement in the Milchan law were 100% false. The sources said Harow was not working for Netanyahu at the time of the efforts to extend the tax shelter and that he first heard about what has been called “the Milchan law” last Tuesday when the police announced their recommendations to indict Netanyahu.
The sources revealed that Harow never spoke to Lapid, was not questioned about “the Milchan law” and submitted no documents or tapes to police.
They questioned whether Lapid or Milchan had instead been the source for police and tried to make Harow a convenient scapegoat.
Lapid has said he was not the source of the information and does not know who the source is. He said he told police that he refused to advance the legislation, and consequently, the bill did not pass.
“The police called me to give evidence,” Lapid wrote on Facebook.
“Until I got there I didn’t know what it was about. They asked me questions for less than an hour and I told them the truth.”
Lapid wrote that he, unlike Netanyahu, refused to accept gifts from Milchan.
“I never even considered taking a shekel from him,” Lapid wrote. “If we went to a restaurant, I paid my share. That’s what allowed me to turn him down if he asked me for anything.”
Harow declined to respond to this report.