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Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer
Photo: AP
Israeli envoy to US questioned in PM graft probe
Ambassador Ron Dermer asked by police investigators about his alleged attempts, at Netanyahu's request, to get then-US Secretary of State John Kerry to help organize an American visa for billionaire Arnon Milchan, who allegedly supplied the prime minister and his wife with gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels.
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer was summoned by the police recently to testify in the illicit gifts investigation against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Channel 2 News reported Tuesday.

 

 

Dermer, who is considered a close associate of Netanyahu's, was asked about alleged attempts he made, at the prime minister’s request, to get then-US Secretary of State John Kerry to help organize a US visa for billionaire Arnon Milchan, who allegedly supplied Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, with gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels for years.

 

Netanyahu (L) and Dermer in 2013 (Photo: GPO) (Photo: GPO)
Netanyahu (L) and Dermer in 2013 (Photo: GPO) (Photo: GPO)

 

Channel 2 further reported that the US State Department has yet to approve the Israeli Justice Ministry’s request to receive former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro’s testimony on the visa request.

 

In August, the police the gag order on the ongoing investigations involving Netanyahu. As part of the request for the order, it was revealed that the one of main suspicions against the prime minister is bribery. At the time, Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court Judge Einat Ron, stated: "Today, Superintendent Shlomo Meshulam appeared before me as part of the investigations and affairs known as '1,000' and '2,000,' which include suspicions of bribery, fraud and breach of trust."

 

Meanwhile, Attorney David Shimron, who is Netanyahu's lawyer, cousin and confidant, and Attorney Yitzhak Molcho, the prime minister’s special envoy on diplomatic affairs (as well as Shimron's brother-in-law and law firm partner) were questioned Tuesday for the third consecutive day as part of the investigation into the submarine affair. 

 

Attorneys Yitzhak Molcho (L) and David Shimron
Attorneys Yitzhak Molcho (L) and David Shimron

 

The two lawyers were detained on Sunday morning and questioned for 15 hours. On Monday, they were confronted with state witness Miki Ganor.

 

The police are investigating suspicions of corruption surrounding the procurement of submarines and patrol ships for Israel's Navy from German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp, a deal mediated by Ganor, who was represented by Shimron.

 

During the confrontation, Ganor accused Molcho of “working to advance the submarine deal,” while Molcho said he had nothing to do with the affair.

 

State witness Miki Ganor waiting to confront David Shimron  (Photo: Amit Shaal)
State witness Miki Ganor waiting to confront David Shimron (Photo: Amit Shaal)

 

The police are investigating suspicions of corruption surrounding the procurement of submarines and patrol ships for Israel's Navy from German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp, a deal mediated by Ganor, who was represented by Shimron.

 

Molcho's lawyer, Zvi Agmon, said in response to the allegations against his client that "he was an envoy for many years, and never took care of his own interests, only those of the country. He has no connection to the submarine affair."

 

Molcho, 72, maintains he and Shimron are innocent and believe the allegations against them are another attempt to harm Netanyahu.

 

The two are among the senior partners in the E.S. Shimron, I. Molcho, Persky & Co. law firm, which has been representing the Netanyahu family for many years.

 

Molcho further maintains that he had no hand in the submarine deal, and that he and Shimron kept their affairs completely separate, with one not knowing about the other's sensitive missions on behalf of the prime minister.

 

Shimron has been serving as Netanyahu's personal consigliere and has been entrusted with the Netanyahu family's personal legal affairs.

 

Netanyahu and Molcho, who served as the prime minister’s advisor and special envoy for years  (Photo: Avi Ohyaon, GPO)
Netanyahu and Molcho, who served as the prime minister’s advisor and special envoy for years (Photo: Avi Ohyaon, GPO)

 

Molcho has been Netanyahu's diplomatic envoy since his first term in 1996. He has negotiated on behalf of the prime minister, primarily with the Palestinians, the United States, Turkey and Egypt.

 

Molcho and Shimron are considered close personal friends of the Netanyahu family.

 

Molcho recently resigned as the prime minister’s special envoy, a move police sources believe was driven by the investigations. “He likely realized he could no longer remain in his position,” one of the sources said. Despite the fact that Molcho was not paid for his work for the prime minister, police consider him a public servant for all intents and purposes and he is suspected of breach of trust.

 


First published: 07.11.17, 22:19
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