TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former chief of staff has testified against his former boss and given police “incriminating” information on the premier regarding two allegations of corruption, Channel 2 reported on Saturday.
Ari Harow turned state’s witness on Friday and according to the report “incriminated” Netanyahu in a case involving Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth‘s publisher Arnon Mozes, which would have seen Mozes receive favors that possibly extend to Knesset legislation against the rival Israel Hayom newspaper in return for positive coverage.
Israeli police said on Thursday that the cases against the prime minister include charges of “bribery, fraud and breach of trust.” Netanyahu’s office denied the allegations as “unfounded.” Netanyahu himself is said to have told investigators that he never made any actual plans with Mozes. However, this seems to fly in the face of Harow’s testimony, in which the former aide says he was specifically asked to take action and “advance matters,” Channel 2 said.
In addition, Israel Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson reportedly told police that the premier had discussed the option of reducing the newspaper’s weekend supplements to gain favor from rival Yedioth.
On Friday, police said Harow, who himself is under investigation for unrelated allegations, would avoid jail by agreeing to be state’s witness.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said last week that even if indicted the prime minister would not be forced to resign.
“If we arrive at a situation in which an indictment is served, the coalition parties will sit down and consider what to do,” she said.
Nevertheless, several opposition leaders on Saturday called for the prime minister to step down.
“We no longer have any expectations of Netanyahu,” Channel 10 quoted Labor party chief Avi Gabbay saying. “This is no longer a matter of right or left but leaders that look out for the citizens.”
Several others have come out against using Harow as state witness.
Likud MK David Bitan said it was “unpleasant” that a trusted former confidante like Harow would now testify against Netanyahu, but added that the prime minister could “handle it.”
Knesset Internal Affairs Committee Head MK Dudi Amsalem, also from the ruling Likud party, told Arutz Sheva that using Harow as state’s witness was “immoral.”
“From the second they decided to investigate [Netanyahu], they have dedicated everything they have to convict him.” Amsalem said.
“In the State of Israel, the police have greater motivation when it comes to interrogations of a prime minister than they do with private citizens,” he added.