Sources close to billionaire Arnon Milchan defended his character on Sunday, after MK David Amsalem (Likud) attacked Milchan’s character and questioned his motives and said that he may very well have lied about providing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with hundreds of dollars’ worth of illicit gifts.
“It’s embarrassing and concerning to see the slander campaign started this morning by assistants to those with a vested interest to act against a man who has dedicated his life to fortifying the safety and prosperity of the State of Israel and used his vast connections to discretely strengthen its diplomatic ties with countries and leaders around the world,” those close to Arnon Milchan said on Sunday.
“It is odd to see how those assistants are briefed against a man who in the last few years has become the champion of IDF fighters, security forces and Jewish and Zionist organizations the world over, with an open heart and unprecedented bounds. Mr. Milchan will act in any way necessary to defend his name and the name of his family and his loyal and devoted employees against entities that cause him, his family and his employees unnecessary pain and suffering,” added his confidants.
Following this statement, sources close to Netanyahu issued a statement, saying that “The prime minister didn’t brief anyone regarding Arnon Milchan.” A statement was also issued on Netanyahu’s behalf, saying that “The Netanyahu and Milchan families have maintained a deep friendship for decades. All the claims recently leveled against Arnon Milchan are completely baseless and stand in opposition to the opinions of the prime minister and his wife.”
The Haaretz newspaper reported Friday that in police investigation Milchan testified that both Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu demanded he give them illicit gifts, such as cigars and champagne. Netanyahu is expected to be called in for another round of questioning by the Police’s Lahav 443 Special Investigations Unit for Fraud later in the week.
Channel 2 News commentator Amnon Abramovich claimed in his report on Friday that Milchan had bought Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, expensive jewelry as per her request. The report detailed a specific event that took place back in 2004, while Netanyahu served as finance minister.
In a briefing to reporters, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh referred to the current investigations against Netanyahu—namely, Case 1000 regarding suspicions of receiving illicit gifts and Case 2000 regarding an alleged relationship of mutual benefits he maintained with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes. “We’re conducting a very professional and responsible job in order to get at the truth. In most of the cases we examine, we arrive at the truth.”
Alsheikh added that “There are definitely cases when the prosecution doesn’t submit an indictment because they don’t think there is enough evidence. This probably won’t happen here, because we’re working very very… It’s highly unlikely that we’ll go up to them and they’ll tell us there isn’t enough evidence.”
He clarified that “We’re going to need more than a few weeks to finish bringing things before the attorney general.” When asked if instead of moving ahead with investigations relating to a public official during their time in office, Alsheikh said, “In our current system, we should definitely fight corruption and investigate sitting public officials.”
Arnon Mozes is the publisher and owner of Yedioth Ahronoth Group, which includes Ynet News.