James Packer’s entanglement with Israel’s elite, including a close personal relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu and the now Mossad chief, was deemed a “national risk,” according to an Israeli report, citing witness testimony in the corruption trial of Netanyahu.
The 53-year-old Australian casino mogul developed an obsession with the Jewish state in recent years, once kissing the feet of former President Shimon Peres when he came to dinner, according to “a person close” to Peres. You are also considering converting to Judaism, The Haaretz newspaper reported.
The alleged details of Packer’s longstanding relationship with the country’s ruling class have emerged from a lengthy corruption trial against Netanyahu. Case 1,000, the so-called “gift affair,” involves claims that the Israeli prime minister and his family received valuable gifts from international billionaires, including expensive cigars and pink champagne.
The Guardian was unable to corroborate the Haaretz report. Throughout the investigation and the trial that followed, the details of the testimonies were regularly leaked in the Israeli press. A spokesman for Packer did not respond to questions about the Haaretz report.
Packer is not a suspect in the corruption case, but he bought a beachfront home with the Netanyahu family and allegedly showered them with favors, including free vacations for the leader’s 71-year-old son Yair and jewelry for him. wife, Sara. Netanyahu denies all the allegations, saying that any gifts were goodwill between friends.
Haaretz wrote that the Australian fell in love with Netanyahu and told Israeli investigators that the country’s oldest leader was “the most impressive person I have ever met in my life.” He was also delighted with Yossi Cohen, who headed the national security council at the time and is now the head of Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad.
Packer referred to Cohen as the “number one spy” or “James Bond,” according to the testimony of Hollywood producer and former Israeli intelligence agent Arnon Milchan, Haaretz said. Milchan, who has worked on films such as Pretty Woman and Fight Club, does not face charges, but has become a key witness.
He said in his testimony that he was concerned that Packer, who has said he has paranoia and has drunk excess alcohol, will become a “national risk.”
Haaretz wrote that Netanyahu’s relationship with Packer was so close that the prime minister used the Australian’s villa when Packer was away, including the gym and swimming pool. “I brought him a cigar cutter, a lighter and an ashtray, I made him an espresso and he’s lounging on the deck,” he quoted a housekeeper while writing to Packer staff.
In 2015, Packer accompanied Netanyahu to Washington DC when the prime minister spoke to the United States Congress. Packer was also present when Netanyahu addressed the United Nations.
But the relationship with Packer was exploited by Netanyahu, according to the testimony of Ari Harow, the head of the politician’s office at the time.
“I thought I was attending some of the meetings with Bibi drunk or high,” Harow testified, using the leader’s nickname, according to Haaretz. “Once when he came to a meeting, he threw up, I don’t remember if it was before or after.”
He added: “It was clear that his relationship [Netanyahu’s] The point of view was to benefit from this friendship, ‘”Harow testified, according to Haaretz.
Netanyahu, testifying to police, acknowledged that Packer considered him “the most impressive person he ever met” and said they had a “deep bond”. But he said he did not realize what the researchers described as “somewhat unstable in his mental state.”
The Haaretz article claimed that Netanyahu’s key ambition for Packer was to get him to buy an Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, in an attempt to reduce its critical coverage.
Harow testified that the prime minister “absolutely briefed” Packer at the official Jerusalem residence on how to buy the newspaper, with Sara Netanyahu talking about how the media “always attacks her and the children.”
But Packer’s attempts failed and he was devastated, Haaretz cited Packer’s personal assistant, Fairies Klein, as a witness.
“He came back from there crying,” he supposedly said. “He said, ‘Fairies, I can’t do it.’ In the morning we took him to the airport and he vomited violently from the pressure. I said, ‘Just do what you believe in.’ Scream. He really cried, with tears. “
Later in 2016, Packer’s personal life hit rock bottom, according to Damon Kitney, author of The Price of Fortune, which was written using interviews with Packer, who has bipolar disorder. He drank a bottle of vodka “and more” a day and also took powerful psychiatric drugs.
Packer returned to Israel to recover in February 2016, Haaretz reported. Later that year, Milchan suggested that Netanyahu call Packer’s psychiatrist directly, Haaretz claimed.
Milchan stated in his testimony, according to Haaretz, that Packer’s close relationship with the prime minister and Cohen, who was then the head of Mossad, justified a check on his “mental and medical condition.”
“I would check for two concerns: as a friend and as a national risk,” Milchan was quoted as saying.
Haaretz reported that Netanyahu shared the concern and called the psychiatrist, although he said no information was released and the prime minister has not confirmed it.
Packer left Israel later that year and has not returned. The Guardian has contacted the Israeli prime minister’s office for comment on the Haaretz report.
Separately, Packer’s gambling empire, Crown Resorts, is under scrutiny by two investigations in Australia after another investigation in New South Wales found in February that it was unfit to be licensed for a new Sydney casino.
The NSW investigation found that Crown facilitated money laundering at its existing Melbourne and Perth casinos and that tour operators bringing in high rollers were linked to organized crime.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism