Arnaud Mimran & Bibi

French Tycoon, On Trial For Theft, Says He Helped Fund Netanyahu Campaign

Arnaud Mimran, suspected of stealing 282 million euros from the French Finance Ministry, testified in court that he signed a cheque for 1 million euros for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election campaign.

Arnaud Mimran & Bibi
Arnaud Mimran & Netanyahu

Arnaud Mimran, the main suspect in the great theft dubbed “the sting operation of the century,” testified on Thursday at a Paris court that he funded expenses of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in France, as well as directly funding election campaign expenses amounting to one million Euros. Netanyahu vehemently denied the report.

According to the law governing campaign contributions and instructions issued by the state comptroller, a Knesset candidate is entitled to accept donations from any individual totaling no more than 11,480 shekels ($2,970). In elections for leadership of a party or in internal party primaries, in which there are more than 50,000 voters, a candidate can accept individual donations of up to 45,880 shekels ($11,870).

Mimran is suspected of stealing at least 282 million euros from the French Finance Ministry through a deception involving the rolling over value-added tax in deals relating to carbon dioxide capping. The focus of the court discussion on Thursday was to determine whether senior figures have succeeded until now in protecting Mimran from being indicted. In this context, Mimran’s close relations with Benjamin Netanyahu came up.

A joint investigation by Haaretz and the French website Mediapart, published last month, showed that Mimran financed vacations for Netanyahu and his family in the Alps and on the French Riviera. Mimran also lent Netanyahu his apartment in the 16th arrondissement in Paris, taking him to a prestigious nightclub during Netanyahu’s visit to Paris. Arnaud’s name features prominently in the list of foreign donors that was compiled by Netanyahu on the eve of his return to power, as published by journalist Raviv Drucker on Channel 10 News.

In addition to these expenses, Mimran has now testified that he signed a cheque for financing an earlier Netanyahu election campaign, in 2001, as far as he remembers. “I financed him to the tune of about one million euros,” he said.

Mimran’s declaration came while he was being questioned on the witness stand about the extent of his expenses. His testimony revealed that most of his assets are not registered in his name. He explained to the judge: “The Rolls Royce is in my wife’s name, the McLaren is in my sister’s name. Only the Ferrari and Maserati are registered in my name.” This playing innocent caused quite a furor in the courtroom.

Mimran’s testimony also brought up for the first time the fate of the French-Israeli criminal Sami Sweid, who was suspected of money laundering at a Bank Hapoalim branch on Hayarkon Street in Tel Aviv. Sweid was murdered before a scheduled nighttime meeting with Mimran, and the prosecutor hinted that police suspect that Mimran was somehow involved in that assassination.

Legal sources told Haaretz that the transfer of a million Euros and covering personal expenses of a foreign politician are not illegal in France so that the prosecution will not devote much attention to the matter. Netanyahu’s friendship with someone suspected of carrying out the largest theft in European history will crop up again during the trial in relation to the impact of Mimran’s numerous friendships on the affair.


By Dov Alfon, Haaretz correspondent

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

Israel’s justice minister pushes for Israeli law to be applied in West Bank

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has announced she will push for a controversial plan to extend Israeli civil law to West Bank settlements – a move that critics say would be tantamount to the annexation of territories beyond the Green Line.

“West Bank Conditions need to be equal. There are basic laws that do not apply in Judea and Samaria [West Bank]. It is my goal to equalize conditions within one year, either by a GOC [General Officer Commanding] decree or through legislation,” Shaked said at a conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, as quoted by Ynet News.

Shaked is seeking to revive the ‘Norms Bill,’ which was first introduced in 2014 and sought to provide Jewish settlers living in the occupied territories with the same legal rights as citizens living in Israel.

A special committee to work on the legislation alongside the Israeli Defense Ministry  has already been established, Shaked noted.

The law, if passed, would widen the existing gap between Jewish settlers and the Palestinians who are all currently living under martial law.

“What we’re trying to do is to make the process more orderly. At the end of the day, hundreds of thousands of people live there, and just like you can’t fire a woman for being pregnant in Israel, that should also apply to women in Judea and Samaria,” the minister said, according to The Times of Israel, adding that the legal status of the areas involved would not change and the process would run in compliance with international law.

Opposition members of the Knesset have scorned the proposal, saying that it undermines the possibility of future peace talks with the Palestinians.

“Minister Ayelet Shaked continues to fan the flames and pour oil on the fire that is Israel’s relations with the world. This move will sabotage any chance of a political agreement,” Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon said, as quoted by The Times of Israel.



On US tour, Israeli Politicians Debate Diaspora Zionism

Billed as a “strengthening the relationship” gathering, seven members of Israel’s Knesset addressed rifts between Israelis and American Jews during a town hall meeting outside Boston Wednesday night.

In its fourth year, the Knesset Mission is sponsored by the Ruderman Family Foundation, whose priorities include deepening connections between Israelis and American Jews, as well as advancing inclusion for people with disabilities.

A 20-minute interview with MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) kicked off the event, during which Livni urged several hundred attendees in Newton’s Temple Emanuel to “be united for a shared vision” about Israel’s future, despite yawning gaps between Israel and the Palestinians on a solution to the conflict.

“The whole idea is to separate us from the Palestinians, to live in two states for two peoples,” said Linvi, who received a standing ovation following the interview with Algemeiner editor-in-chief Dovid Efune.

When asked if widespread anti-Semitic opinions held by Palestinians are an obstacle to peace, Livni pushed back, saying, “It’s more important that we think about what we need to do in Israel.”

Mentioning Israel’s need for permanent borders several times, Livni called on the government to freeze building in settlements outside the major blocs, and to strengthen the Palestinian economy.

MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) and MK Michal Biran (Zionist Union) at the Ruderman Knesset Mission in Newton, outside Boston, on April 13, 2016 (Elan Kawesch/The Times of Israel)

MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) and MK Michal Biran (Zionist Union) at the Ruderman Knesset Mission in Newton, outside Boston, on April 13, 2016 (Elan Kawesch/The Times of Israel)

“A good Palestinian economy is good for Israel’s security,” said the former foreign minister, who mentioned her role in the 2005 disengagement from Gaza under former prime minister Ariel Sharon.

Apart from pursuing a two-state solution, Livni said Israel’s future relies on shaping a new paradigm for relations between the Jewish state and US Jews.

‘The obvious in 1948 is not obvious anymore’

“The obvious in 1948 is not obvious anymore,” Livni said of some young Diaspora Jews’ lack of a connection to Israel. While acknowledging the BDS movement — Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — as a threat to Israel, Livni called on students to engage with the Jewish state beyond fighting BDS and other forms of anti-Semitism on campus.

On Israel’s end of the relationship, Linvi criticized the rabbinate’s authority in the civil affairs of Israeli Jews, saying, “the Jewishness of the state shouldn’t be given to the ultra-Orthodoxy in Israel,” for which she received applause.

Following the talk with Livni, each of the six “junior” MKs gave remarks tied to the Israel-Diaspora relationship and his or her party’s priorities in Israel.

First up was MK Yoav Kisch (Likud), a former IAF pilot and start-up maven, who did not mince words in his opposition to Livni’s vision of two states.

Audience members during the Ruderman Knesset Mission's Boston stop, held on April 13, 2016 at Temple Emanuel in Newton (Elan Kawesch/The Times of Israel)

Audience members during the Ruderman Knesset Mission’s Boston stop, held on April 13, 2016 at Temple Emanuel in Newton (Elan Kawesch/The Times of Israel)

“I am not going to risk the future of my son,” said Kisch, who added that ceding land to Palestinians in the West Bank “will create another ISIS country, or Hamas country, five minutes from Ben-Gurion [Airport].”

Kisch spoke about the aftermath of Israel’s disengagement from Gaza one decade ago, which was followed by “rockets and death tunnels,” he said.

‘As long as there is incitement in Palestinian education, we will not move forward’

Pointing to youth indoctrination as the conflict’s ongoing fuel, Kisch said, “As long as there is incitement in Palestinian education, we will not move forward. It has to stop,” he said.

Given his audience’s applause for Livni’s promotion of a two-state solution, Kisch closed with what a cynic might call a backhanded compliment.

“I believe that you care about our security as much as we care about your identity as North American [Jewish] communities,” said Kisch. “No matter how deep our disagreements may be, we will keep the conversation going,” he added.

MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) at the Ruderman Knesset Mission event outside Boston on April 13, 2016 (Elan Kawesch/The Times of Israel)

MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union) at the Ruderman Knesset Mission event outside Boston on April 13, 2016 (Elan Kawesch/The Times of Israel)

Focusing on Zionism last night was MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist Union), a former commander of the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit.

“Zionism was a movement that said let’s control our future, let’s not depend on others to control our future,” said Bar-Lev. “The mission of Zionism is not to establish a Palestinian state. It is that Israel will be a democratic state with a clear Jewish majority,” he said.

As the only Ethiopian-Israeli MK, Avraham Neguise (Likud) opened his remarks by saying he would “leave at home” talk of a two-state solution, because “we can always argue in the Knesset,” he said.

Instead of Israeli-Palestinian relations, Neguise addressed issues ranging from immigration to strengthening Israel’s relationship with countries in Africa. Other MKs focused on economic issues, most notably MK Michal Biran (Zionist Union), who trashed the Netanyahu government’s policies as widening the rich-poor gap.

Identifying herself as “a feminist modern Orthodox Jewish woman,” MK Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) urged the audience to “do your own research” when it comes to their relationship with Israel. Focusing on youth development was MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Kulanu), who heads the Knesset’s Rights of the Child committee.

Following the speeches, a moderator read half a dozen questions from the audience, with mentions of Women of the Wall, the war in Syria, religious pluralism in Israel, and — that most timeless of political questions — “AIPAC or J-Street?” The MKs tip-toed around that last thicket, not hesitating to urge “unity” in their responses.

Speaking during a town hall-style gathering outside Boston on April 13, 2016, MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Union) addresses the audience at Temple Emanuel in Newton (Elan Kawesch/The Times of Israel)


VIDEO: Merkel Speaking Hebrew to the Knesset

In the following video ‪#‎Merkel‬ thanks the ‪#‎Knesset‬ for allowing her to speak in her “mother tongue.” Is her “mother tongue” being Hebrew in this video? Of course, it makes sense that she means German. But, some may disagree. Disagree in the sense that this could be a symbolic gesture to the Knesset.

Why? Take a look at her current pro-‪#‎Zionist‬ policies, ‪#‎Communist‬ past, upbringing in East Berlin, and her family history — in doing so, the picture changes.

Now, could this all be confirmation her roots are ‪#‎Jewish‬?
This is speculative, but her actions carry all the hallmarks of ‪#‎Zionism‬ and her being under the influence of it.