Benjamin Netanyahu: ‘It’s possible’ I let Milchan use IDF helicopter

Netanyahu allegedly received from billionaire Milchan: NIS 267,254 in cigars, NIS 199,819 of champagne and NIS 10,900 to Sara Netanyahu for jewelry

By
July 9, 2019 11:05
3 minute read.
An IAF helicopter.

IDF helicopter 311. (photo credit: AP [illustrative])

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the police both “I don’t remember” and “it’s possible” when interrogated by police in Case 1000 (the Illegal Gifts Affair) about whether he provided tycoon Arnon Milchan an IDF helicopter for business purposes, Channel 12 reported late Monday.

Netanyahu allegedly received from billionaire Milchan: NIS 267,254 in cigars, NIS 199,819 of champagne and NIS 10,900 to Sara Netanyahu for jewelry.

The state prosecution in its February 28 statement of allegations against Netanyahu said that he knew about all of this, including gifts to Sara Netanyahu, which he has denied knowing about.

Further, the prosecution alleged that Netanyahu summoned IDF Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot to provide Milchan an IDF helicopter to go to Jordan for business.

Netanyahu’s lawyers have told The Jerusalem Post that this was for Indian businessman Ratan Tata to advance deals with Jordan, not for Milchan.

But the prosecution says that Netanyahu also met with Milchan’s accountant, Ze’ev Feldman, and with close aide Shlomo Filber (who featured large in Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair) to ensure that the business plans were to benefit Milchan.

Against this background, Channel 12 revealed what it said was a summary of the classified police transcript of Netanyahu being interrogated over the issue.

While initially Netanyahu told top police interrogator Koresh Barnur that he did not remember or maybe sent the helicopter, later Netanyahu appears to “own” the act of obtaining the helicopter, but claims that it was all for the good of the state to advance the peace process and relations with India.

According to the report, Barnur repeatedly interrupts the prime minister demanding he explain why he got an IDF helicopter for a private business deal, for Milchan, who also happened to have given him extremely expensive gifts.

In one dramatic exchange, Barnur asks if providing an IDF helicopter in such a situation is “a standard custom.”

Netanyahu: “Why not? Why not?”

Barnur: “How can you say ‘why not’? He was a private businessman! Two private businessmen.”

Netanyahu:: “What private businessman? There are two things going on here.”

Later, the two go back and forth repeatedly with Netanyahu saying he did this for others, and Barnur seemingly raising his voice and demanding that Netanyahu provide examples.

Netanyahu keeps saying he has examples, but needs time to think of them.

Barnur: “Who else did you arrange helicopters for?”

Netanyahu:
 “Listen...”

Barnur: 
“For who else?"

Netanyahu: 
“Wait a second…I have arranged.”

Barnur: 
“Give me an example.”

Netanyahu: 
“I have."

Barnur:
 “Give me an example.”

Netanyahu: 
“Let me remember…”

Barnur: “Give me examples right now. Remember now and do not hand me a document from one of your drawers in another year."

As Netanyahu reiterates the importance of promoting economic peace with Jordan and building stronger relations with India, Barnur responds dismissively, “you are giving a speech,” as if to imply that the prime minister’s audience is the public who may later see his testimony.

The surreal exchange shows the prime minister in the uncharacteristic position of being harried, lectured and defensive.

Netanyahu responded in a Facebook Live post by calling Channel 12 “Gantz-Barak TV” and criticizing the channel for requesting a response just ahead of their evening news broadcast.

“Gantz TV is trying to detract the public from the real question of who should be prime minister with gossip and manipulative reports, because they think you are idiots,” Netanyahu said.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is expected to issue a final indictment against Netanyahu around December, following pre-indictment hearings in October which may reduce some of the charges against him in three different affairs.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report



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