Former Prime Minister’s Office chief of staff Ari Harow is set to testify in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s three corruption trials on Tuesday.
The testimony may last as much as one day, but cross-examination by the defense may take several sessions.
The Los Angeles-born Harow faced his own fraud and breach of trust charges in connection to Case 2000, but turned state’s witness against Netanyahu in a plea bargain.
Another witness may testify over video call
For pleading guilty, Harow will serve six months of community service and pay a NIS 700,000 fine. As part of the deal, prosecutors had initially wanted Harow to spend time in jail and pay as much as NIS 5 million, indicating the seriousness of the charges leveled against him. His lawyers negotiated the punishment down.
Harow served as a close adviser to Netanyahu. He was his bureau chief in 2008, his chief of staff in 2014 and the Likud campaign director for the 2015 election. He is reported to be deeply familiar with the inner workings of Netanyahu’s political operations.
Harow’s testimony may be interrupted by that of former public security minister Gilad Erdan, who is set to take the stand next Monday. Erdan will testify in Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair. In this case, Netanyahu is accused of a quid pro quo with the Bezeq telecommunications company for favorable coverage on the Walla news site.
A court decision has not yet been delivered on the prosecution’s request to have businessman Arnon Milchan testify in a video call in June. Milchan is a key witness in Case 1000, the Gifts Affair, in which Netanyahu is accused of receiving expensive gifts from Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer. Netanyahu’s legal team is set to submit its position on Milchan’s remote testimony on Tuesday.
After Harow, another group of witnesses will testify on cases 1000 and 2000. The prosecution expects these testimonies to be shorter. Case 2000, the Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom Affair, alleges that the prime minister sought to weaken a competitor of the paper in return for positive coverage.