The head prosecutor investigating Benjamin Netanyahu for allegedly having received illicit gifts indirectly addressed the case and implied doubt regarding the prime minister’s assertions that he had simply received personal gifts from friends.
Liat Ben Ari, the Tel Aviv district attorney for taxation and economics, was speaking at a Tel Aviv panel of the Israel Bar Association. She commented, “When it comes to hundreds of thousands of shekels that are given to a public servant, I find it difficult to accept that this is only a gift from one friend to another.”
Ben Ari responded to the question of whether small gifts are considered a serious bribery offense: “Everything depends on the circumstances.” She added, “The question of friendship comes up in every case. I know about myself and my friends—none of us demands receiving hundreds of thousands of shekels as a gift.
“The interests in such a situation must be examined. There are a lot of bribery cases now. Every case is a whole world for us, and there is no doubt that it is very interesting for us to examine the relationship between the giver and the recipient.”
It was recently reported that the state’s attorney had increased the team of lawyers working with the police in investigations against Netanyahu.
The prime minister’s office issued a response that reads, “There is no basis to claim that something was improper with the relationships between the prime minister and his colleagues.
“First—the close friendship between the families is an unequivocal and indisputable fact, including during periods that the prime minister was a private citizen.
“Second—we deny the amounts that are given, and in any case, it was cigars that were given on multiple occasions over 17 years of friendship. Therefore, the claim that one gift was given at a value of hundreds of thousands of shekels or many gifts worth thousands of dollars each were given is simply not true.
“Third—during all these years there were no interests, and no compensation was given. We repeat: There was nothing, and therefore there will be nothing.”
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)