Netanyahu to face testimony on gifts received from billionaires

Explainer: testimony comes as Netanyahu is beginning his campaign to retake the prime minister's office after losing to Naftali Bennett's coalition in the ballot last year; witness seen as credible and knowledgeable after being personally involved in the alleged transactional relations
Tova Zimuki|
Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's corruption Case 1000, in which he is accused of receiving gifts from from billionaires in exchange for favors, will begin on Tuesday.
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  • Hadas Klein, the personal assistant of Israeli Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and the representative in Israel of Australian billionaire James Packer, will begin her testimony in the Jerusalem District Court.
    Both Milchan and Packer, according to the indictment, gave lavish gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, to Netanyahu and his wife, in exchange for financial or personal favors, making Klein a valuable prosecution witness.
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    בנימין נתניהו הדס קליין
    בנימין נתניהו הדס קליין
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Hadas Klein
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch, Yedioth Archive)
    She was described as having provided consistent, trustworthy, explicit, and credible testimony throughout the police investigation and in questioning by prosecutors.
    The testimony comes as Netanyahu is beginning his campaign to retake the prime minister's office after losing to Naftali Bennett's coalition after the ballot last year.
    Netanyahu had been accused by political opponents of attempting to hold on to power, in order to prevent his trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust on three counts.
    Hadas was trusted by Milchen and very involved in the details of his ventures in Israel and was online during phone calls with Netanyahu.
    Netanyahu is accused of breach of trust on two fronts - receiving gifts or favors from a civil servant, and doing deeds for the gift-givers in return.
    According to the indictment, He and his family received valuable gifts between October 2011 until December 2016 from Milchan, and between 2014 to 2016 they received gifts from Packer as well.
    The indictment states the gifts included expensive cigars, champagne and jewelry that were bestowed at the demand of the former prime minister and his wife, even when Milchan and Packer were not in Israel, in a "continuous supply line" to the Prime Minister's residence.
    3 View gallery
    Arnon Milchan
    Arnon Milchan
    Arnon Milchan
    (Photo: GettyImages)
    Klein's testimony is expected to confirm that the deliveries were not "ordinary gifts" between friends, but rather a constant flow of expensive goods, estimated to be worth more than NIS 700,000 ($213,000).
    The indictment emphasizes that the favors done for Netanyahu were linked to his public positions, and according to the prosecution, Netanyahu should have avoided dealing with Milchan's affairs altogether, in light of the ties between them.
    The prosecution also states that between 2011 to 2016, Netanyahu acted on behalf of Milchan on three occasions: Between 2013-2014 he used his ties with the American government to ensure the producer would be granted an extended visa to the U.S. In 2013, Netanyahu called on Yair Lapid, then the finance minister, to extend Milchan's exemption from filing and paying income tax, which is granted to returning residents of Israel for a limited time.
    And in 2015, Netanyahu instructed Shlomo Filber - former director general of the Communications Ministry - to help Milchan with regulatory issues in a transaction between the communication companies "Reshet" and "Keshet" after the former prime minister according to reports, sought to see his benefactor placed at the head of a unified news division that would be more favorable to him.
    3 View gallery
    עו"ד עמית חדד
    עו"ד עמית חדד
    Lawyer Amit Hadad
    (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)
    Netanyahu's attorney Amit Hadad stands at the head of the defense team for Case 1000, and from the beginning claimed that the accusations against his client were weak and will not hold up to cross-examination, calling the case a "fishing expedition" against Netanyahu.
    Hadad intends to present evidence that the police began their probe of suspicions long before the Attorney General approved their investigation. He will also claim Netanyahu did not act in the benefit of Milchen and in fact took steps that were harmful to his billionaire friend.
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