Committee: Netanyahu Can’t Take Donations for Legal Defense

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

A Justice Ministry committee has rejected a request by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to raise money from private sources to fund his defense efforts in the investigations against him. Netanyahu had sought to get the money from several wealthy acquaintances of his, including Spencer Partridge, a top CEO and close friend of the Prime Minister and his cousin Nathan Milkowsky.

Previously, State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit had authorized Netanyahu to accept funds from associates to fund his defense, which includes the discovery process now going on with the submission of documents relating to the case by police, and the legal defense in court that will be required if Netanyahu is actually indicted for anything.

However, Mandelblit submitted the request to a Justice Ministry committee that investigates the use of private funds by public officials, and the committee ruled that Netanyahu could not accept money from the two – and as a result, the Prime Minister was forced to return some $2 million that had been donated to his defense fund.

Netanyahu appealed the decision, and the committee said it would consider the request – if the Prime Minister provided full data on his holdings in Israel and abroad. The committee gave Netanyahu 30 days to present the data, with the grace period expiring Sunday – and the committee giving a final veto to the request.

Netanyahu has said in the past that the money is necessary to fund his defense, as he does not have sufficient funds for the effort, and denying him the right to get money from donors was a denial of his legal rights.