Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid arrives to testify in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial, June 13, 2023.

On Tuesday afternoon, Opposition Leader MK Yair Lapid concluded his testimony on Case 1000 in Netanyahu’s Trial, and after promises of major revelations against Netanyahu that did not materialize, got himself embroiled in potential trouble.

According to the indictment in the case, Prime Minister Netanyahu demanded that his finance minister, Lapid, assist in promoting the business interests of millionaire businessman Arnon Milchin.


To be exact: according to the indictment, “Following Milchin’s request, the defendant Netanyahu raised with Lapid the issue of extending the exemption period granted returning citizens, in two professional meetings he held with him as part of his job. In these meetings, the defendant Netanyahu made it clear to Lapid that Milchin had discussed the issue with him. The defendant Netanyahu expressed to Lapid his support for the extension of the exemption, while Lapid said that he does not believe that action should be taken to extend it.”

But Lapid’s recollection of events was anti-climactic. Netanyahu wanted him to approve a bill to allow returning Israeli ex-pats to maintain their overseas businesses without reporting their annual income to the Israeli tax authority for the first ten years. Lapid testified that he didn’t like the idea, but explained that his exchange with the PM did not take place during a meeting, it was more like running into each other in the hallway. And Netanyahu didn’t demand anything, he merely informed his finance minister and moved on.

But in Tuesday’s cross-examination, defense attorney Amit Hadad confronted the witness with a question regarding his declaration of a conflict of interest regarding Milchan when he took office at the finance ministry.

“Did you declare your conflict of interest with Milchin or not?” Hadad inquired. Lapid answered that he shared his curriculum vita with the legal counsel of the finance ministry, and they moved it along.

But Hadad insisted, “That’s not how this works,” and introduced a Lapid post in which the leader of the opposition stated: “In 2013 when I took up my position at the Treasury, I filled out a conflict-of-interest agreement. It goes without saying that I also reported my acquaintance with Milchin and the legal counselor decided that there was no conflict of interest. I did my part, I just said that no way was there any, and that was the end of the matter.”

Hadad asked Lapid if the text he quoted was real, and when the witness confirmed, the defense attorney quoted Deputy AG Dina Zilber on the subject, stating that “an opinion was established to prevent a conflict of interest. Based on our inspection of the documents related to the opinion for the purpose of drafting the agreement, Milchin’s name was not mentioned.”

Hadad then pointed to a serious contradiction between Lapid’s statement that he was against the bill, which was later dubbed “The Milchin Law.” Hadad said, “Let’s read together whether during the meeting you said no to Milchan.”

Hadad read from the police investigation protocol: “Lapid: ‘I listened to them politely and said I would consult with the professional echelon and that was the end of the meeting… Arnon spoke to me afterwards as well. I told him I’m willing to consider it, should someone tell me, I’m setting up a factory with over 50 employees in Israel, or if there were millions involved, then we can talk to him about a tax exemption, but why give a tax exemption for twenty years?

Attorney Hadad asked Lapid: “Explain to me what you meant by ‘I am willing to consider?’”

Lapid: “I told him it wouldn’t happen.”

Hadad: “No, you said you were willing to consider.”

Lapid found an escape hatch: “When someone says why give a tax exemption, then that’s what it means.” But naturally, he lied, and no doubt, there will be a thorough police investigation of his lie.

I’m kidding. There won’t be any investigation, ever.


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