Netanyahu Brings Doctor’s Note to Police Questioning

YERUSHALAYIM -
Binyamin Netanyahu with a cigar, July 2, 1997, before a sinus condition forced him to cut down. (Flash90)

Winston Churchill may be his hero, but Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu can no longer emulate the cigar-smoking style of the famous British leader.

Mr. Netanyahu explained to police investigators during corruption probe questioning on Tuesday that due to a sinus problem, his cigar smoking rate has been severely curtailed.

The prime minister refuted allegations that he had accepted tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of cigars from businessman Arnon Milchan, saying that on doctor’s orders he must do without cigars for several months out of the year due to flare-ups of his condition.

Mr. Netanyahu presented the testimony of his personal physician, Dr. Tzvi Berkowitz, who confirmed the prime minister’s statements.

In an interview on radio 103 FM, Dr. Berkowitz said, “It’s not an alibi, it’s true.”

“He has not smoked cigars for a long time already. Also in the past he never smoked a lot. The reason is his nose,” Dr. Berkowitz said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Netanyahu’s attorneys, Jacob Weinroth and Amit Hadad, said that the testimony given by Mr. Milchan concerning the latter’s gift-giving to the prime minister and his wife came as no surprise.

“In light of skewed reports suggesting that the prime minister was taken by surprise during questioning, we want to hereby clarify that the prime minister was not surprised by anything,” the attorneys wrote in a statement quoted in Yisrael Hayom.

“Furthermore,” they added, “the Israel Police did not presume to have presented the prime minister with any kind of surprise. The questioning was to the point, the prime minister answered all the questions he was asked and emerged from the session completely calm. We repeat: Nothing will come of this because nothing happened.”