Arnon Milchan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares, is a close friend. Milchan, questioned under caution at the Israeli Embassy in London, confirms.
Milchan has many close friends: Friendship overrides distance. He told me years ago, in a phone call from Los Angeles, that he was a close friend of late President Shimon Peres and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Barak plotted against Peres. Milchan tried to bring them closer together. That’s what close friends do.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is a close friend too. If I’m not mistaken, so was the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In the past 20 or even 30 years, there hasn’t been a single prime minister in Israel who wasn’t his close friend.
In Netanyahu’s case, the friendship was close enough to make the gift supply legal, but distant enough so as not to create a conflict of interest in decisions made by Netanyahu that had a direct link to Milchan’s money and civil status. A close friendship is sometimes like the bellows of an accordion: When you want to, you expand it; and when you want to, you compress it.
Milchan isn’t famous for his generosity, absolutely not. He’s famous for his personal charm. He’s a great charmer. In my opinion, that’s one of the enigmatic components in the Netanyahu investigation puzzle: Milchan isn’t the kind of billionaire who showers his acquaintances with expensive gifts. It’s not in his nature; it’s not the way he behaves. The gifts had to be requested. Who requested them, when did they request them, what did they request? These are some of the key questions, and Milchan’s answers could have made the investigators happy.
There’s something deceiving in the flood of headlines accompanying the investigations. In the submarine affair, we know that there was corruption and we know the name of the person at the center of the affair: Miki Ganor. Since signing a state’s witness agreement, he has been framing the people he says he corrupted. Before declaring—not for the first time—that this is “the biggest corruption affair in the state’s history—we should wait and see not only who he will inform on, but also who will be indicted and who will be convicted by the court.