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Netanyahu received $300K for criminal defense without committee's approval

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, sits next to Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mandelblit during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Sunday, May 19, 2013
AP Photo/Ronen Zvulun, Pool
This week Netanyahu re-submitted the request, this time for a reported $2 million of funding

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara reportedly received $300,000 in funding for their legal criminal defense from a wealthy American businessman despite the permits committee’s rejection of their request.

The Netanyahus’ lawyer submitted a request last month to receive financing from Netanyahu’s cousin Nathan Milikowsky and US tycoon Spencer Partrich, but was rejected by the State Comptroller’s Office’s permissions committee, which is charged with vetting conflicts of interest for cabinet minister in deciding whether certain activity is permissible.

“It is improper for wealthy people to finance legal expenses stemming from a criminal investigation that includes suspicions of criminal acts connected to those wealthy people,” the committee stated in rejecting the original request, explaining that “such funding could undermine the public’s trust in the integrity of government representatives.”

The committee also cited a failure to provide basic information regarding the amount of funds requested and for which particular cases.

This week Netanyahu re-submitted the request -- this time for a reported $2 million according to Guy Peleg of the Israel Television News Company -- which disclosed that he had already received $300,000 from Partrich.

If the committee rejects the request, it will have to decide how to handle the funds that Netanyahu already received.

Israel’s Attorney General Mandelblit is currently examining police recommendations for Netanyahu’s indictment for bribery and corruption in at least three separate cases -- dubbed Cases 1000, 2000, and 4000.

In “Case 1000”, police allege the prime minister accepted around 1 million shekels ($280,000) worth of luxury gifts from a number of wealthy benefactors - including Israeli entertainment mogul Arnon Milchan - in exchange for favorable government treatment.

“Case 2,000” centers on an alleged arrangement with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes to limit circulation of the newspaper's main rival in exchange for more favorable coverage.

In “Case 4000”, police suspect that Netanyahu granted regulatory benefits to telecommunications giant Bezeq in exchange for positive news coverage by the Walla news website, which is owned by Bezeq’s controlling shareholder.

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