Lapid testifies in Netanyahu corruption trial; lawyer notes contradiction

Netanyahu’s lawyer identified a contradiction in Lapid’s version of events.


Opposition leader Yair Lapid testified at the corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

The Yesh Atid party leader arrived at the Jerusalem District Court to take the stand as part of Case 1000 — one of three cases brought against Netanyahu in the trial.

Under Case 1000, known by Israelis as the Gifts Affair, the prime minister is charged with fraud and breach of trust.

According to the indictment, Netanyahu asked then-Finance Minister Lapid in 2013 to assist in the personal affairs of Israeli businessman and Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan.

Milchan allegedly gave the Netanyahus expensive gifts in exchange for amendments to a law granting tax exemptions to immigrants and returning residents.

Under cross-examination by Netanyahu’s lawyer Amit Hadad at the beginning of Monday’s hearing, Lapid said that he knew about the close relationship between Netanyahu and Milchan but that he “didn’t know then about the issue with the gifts.”

Hadad identified a contradiction in Lapid’s version of events when he “spoke twice” with Netanyahu about Milchan’s request to extend the tax exemption. At the hearing, Lapid said that they met at the Prime Minister’s Residence at Balfour Street and also at the entrance to the Cabinet room on Givat Ram. However, Lapid claimed during a 2017 investigation that both incidents occurred at Balfour Street.

After the judge asked Lapid about the contradiction, he said: “It was a marginal incident so I didn’t remember where it was, but the content is important because when a prime minister addresses me regarding a tax matter, you remember the conversation and the content, not the place.”

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The Gifts Affair is one of three cases which Netanyahu is on trial for.

In Case 2000, also known as the Yediot Affair, the Prime Minister is charged with striking an illegal quid pro quo with Arnon “Noni” Mozes, the publisher of the Yediot Aharonot daily in 2009 when Netanyahu was Minister of Communication. In exchange for supporting legislation that would weaken the rival Israel Hayom daily, Yediot would provide more favorable coverage of Netanyahu.

Case 4000, known as the Bezeq Affair, regards a quid pro quo with Shaul Elovitch, Bezeq’s majority shareholder. Specifically, the PM is accused of giving the telecom regulatory benefits in exchange for favorable coverage on the Elovitch-owned Walla! News site.

Netanyahu insists he is innocent of all charges.