Arnon Milchan led the prosecution to call to replace parts of his testimony with his police interview when he gave conflicting accounts of his relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israeli leader's corruption trial on Wednesday.
Milchan said on Wednesday that his past secret security work served as the background to his relationship with Netanyahu. Milchan had previously told police that he hadn't discussed his security work with Netanyahu, and didn't know if he knew about it.
The court rejected the prosecution's request to favor the police testimony over the businessman’s recent remarks on the matter.
Milchan's ninth day of testimony saw the end of the defense examination. Most of the day was dedicated to review of Case 2000 by Yedioth Ahronoth owner Arnon Mozes's lawyer. In Case 2000, Netanyahu and Mozes are alleged to have met to discuss advancing regulations that would handicap Yediot's news rival Yisrael Hayom in exchange for more positive coverage.
How the day's proceedings began
Milchan described Netanyahu as being in a rivalry and political conflict with Mozes.
"Netanyahu is obsessed with media, it is part of his survival," Milchan said, explaining that Mozes was in opposition to Netanyahu's politics.
In previous days of testimony, Milchan had recalled how he had attempted to broker peace between the warring newspapers at the behest of Netanyahu. Later Milchan had proposed ideas for the sale of Yediot. On Wednesday Milchan said that while Sheldon Adelson was interested in purchasing Yediot, Mozes wasn't interested in meeting with him. Netanyahu had hoped to find someone to purchase the paper, as he wanted Mozes out of his life.
At the beginning of the Wednesday testimony, Haddad had asked Milchan about Case 1000, in which the businessman is alleged to have given expensive gifts to Netanyahu, in return for favors, such as aid with a US visa issue and advancement of a tax law extension.
Milchan told Haddad that he had given the Netanyahu family gifts, such as champagne and cigars, about 70% of the time that he had visited. The businessman testified that the gifts were given out of friendship, and if Netanyahu were a bus driver he still would have doted on him.
Over the course of the testimony, Haddad had presented a narrative in which Milchan's generosity was motivated by an extremely close friendship with Netanyahu, who he said had been given gifts by Milchan even prior to his ascension to the premiership. Haddad argued that many of the issues raised as favors for Milchan were actually motivated by altruistic Zionism and the economic benefit of Israel, or that Netanyahu wasn't actually involved in the matters.
The trial was broadcast to the Jerusalem District Courthouse from Brighton, United Kingdom. Milchan had said that he was too ill to travel, and at the beginning of the Wednesday testimony said that he was feeling about as well as he looked, but would continue on. Netanyahu joined the hearing midway through.