Speed Reads


Netanyahu's ex-chief of staff has agreed to testify against Israel's prime minister

Israeli police confirmed on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a suspect in two investigations into possible "fraud, breach of trust, and bribes." The investigations of Netanyahu were formally verified in a document where police applied for a gag order on reports that prosecutors were negotiating a plea deal with Netanyahu's former chief of staff, Ari Harow. On Friday, Harow agreed to become a state witness and testify against Netanyahu in the two corruption cases, Haaretz and Reuters report. Harow was Netanyahu's chief of staff twice, from 2008 to 2010 and again in 2014, before being arrested in 2015 on suspicion that he was using his chief of staff job to benefit his private business.

The two cases against Netanyahu have been public knowledge for months, but Thursday was the first confirmation that Netanyahu is a suspect. In one case, he and his wife, Sara, allegedly received illicit gifts and favors from wealthy benefactors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan; in the other, Netanyahu is accused of trying to reach a deal in 2014 with Arnon Mozes, publisher of Yediot Aharonot, for positive coverage in his newspaper. Harow apparently recorded part of those latter negotiations on his iPhone.

Netanyahu's office denied all the charges, saying in a statement Thursday that they "completely reject the unfounded claims made against the prime minister," calling the allegations part of of a "campaign to change the government." Separately, Netanyahu's 26-year-old son, Yair Netanyahu, is under fire for a vulgar and potentially libelous social media posts, tabloid attention to a neighbor's account of being flipped off by Yair after confronting him about not picking up after his dog in a public park, and his generally lavish, taxpayer-funded lifestyle. He has been questioned but is not a suspect in the corruption cases surrounding his father.