Cigars, champagne and secrets alleged at Benjamin Netanyahu corruption trial

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a corruption trial in Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a corruption trial in Jerusalem. Photo: EPA

Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan has begun his testimony in the corruption trial of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a court session that was broadcast live from an English seaside town direct to Jerusalem.

The trial is being held in Jerusalem but Mr Milchan’s testimony was taking place in Brighton, which is close to where the 78-year-old is presently based, on request of the prosecution.

The testimony is expected to last several days.

Prosecutors allege that Mr Netanyahu wrongfully received almost 700,000 shekels ($290,000) worth of gifts from Mr Milchan, and from an Australian fellow billionaire, which the indictment describes as a “supply line” of champagne and cigars.

The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing in this case and two other cases that are being heard in the same trial.

Mr Netanyahu is accused of helping Mr Milchan with his business interests and with US visa status.

The prime minister has described the gift giving among friends as normal conduct and his trial as a political witch hunt.

Mr Milchan hinted at a deeper, patriotic cast to the relationship.

“I can’t tell you how many things Bibi and I did in secret for the country,” he said in his testimony, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

When the prime minister arrived at the Jerusalem court to watch from afar, Mr Milchan greeted him off-screen with “Shalom, Bibi!”

Criminal probes against Mr Netanyahu, now in a record sixth term as premier, began in 2016 and set off years of political turmoil in Israel.

After a cycle of inconclusive elections and an 18 month-stint in the opposition, Mr Netanyahu returned to power in December at the head of a hard-right government.

Mr Netanyahu has denied any link between his trial and reforms to the justice system that his coalition is seeking and that have drawn strong opposition.

He has been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust for allegedly granting regulatory favours to businessmen in return for positive favourable media coverage.


Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.