PM´s recommendations for donations (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Ynet Published: 06.01.12, 12:49)
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Netanyahu´s political practices come into question as report alleges
When serving as a minister in Ariel Sharon´s government, Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a letter of recommendation
praising the qualifications of Tony Gelbart, a businessman and
chairman of the Nefesh B´Nefesh organization.
Meanwhile, for his part, Gelbart paid Netanyahu tens of thousands of
dollars to give lectures and donated tens of thousands of shekels to
Netanyahu when he was running for Likud chairman, Haaretz newspaper
reported on Friday.
According to an expose which was broadcast by Channel 10 last year,
following and in depth investigation carried out by reporter Raviv
Drucker, Netanyahu and Gelbart held close ties. Netanyahu´s phonebook
clearly stated that he was a "business associate. Lives in Florida,
It was also stated that when Netanyahu was a private citizen he made
money from, among other things, arranging meetings where each meeting
cost $8,000. Among the people he arranged meetings with was Gelbart.
Netanyahu received additional payment from Gelbart when he spoke at
lectures: $40,000 per lecture. Gelbart also paid for Sara Netanyahu
to go abroad and twice Netanyahu reported that he received donations
from Gelbart to the state comptroller.
Documents obtained by Haaretz indicated that the relationship was
mutual. A few days before Netanyahu became finance minister toward
the end of February 2003, Gelbart sent a draft recommendation letter
for himself to George Birnbaum, a US political consultant, now a
partner of Arthur Finkelstein, who advised Netanyahu in the past.
Birnbaum passed the letter to the foreign minister´s office (the role
Netanyhau held at the time) with a cover page in which he
wrote: "Please have Mr. Netanyahu review, put on his letterhead, sign
and fax back by Friday afternoon if possible. It is very urgent."
The letter Netanyahu sent in response praised Gelbart´s efforts as a
"To Whom It May Concern: I consider Tony Gelbart a good friend. Over
the past several years, I have come to know him as a business man, a
philanthropist and close confidant. As a business man, family man and
friend, I find that Tony exemplifies the highest standards of
integrity and commitment.
"Tony´s commitment to strengthening the State of Israel as a country,
and his commitment to businesses and creating jobs have proven an
invaluable asset to me and the State of Israel. In addition, his
tireless efforts also strengthen the ties of both people and
businesses between the United States and Israel.
"Having recently met with him, I am confident more than ever that he
will continue his efforts with the utmost concern, passion and
Another incident mentioned by Haaretz involves Australian billionaire
John Gandel. In 2004 Netanyahu sent Gandel a birthday card in honor
of his 70th birthday and also tried to arrange for a birthday card
from then president Moshe Katsav.
Netanyahu´s office manager, Tzipi Navon wrote to presidential aide
Moshe Goral on official letterhead: "Following our phone
conversation, please send me the president´s birthday greeting to
John Gandel by fax … Thank you, Tzipi."
In response to a query from Haaretz, Gelbart replied: "Over the years
I have received many letters of recommendation and endorsement from
prominent individuals for my work on behalf of the Jewish people both
in the USA and Israel.
"I can´t recall this specific one which you are enquiring about.
Furthermore, I don´t remember funding any flight for Mrs. Netanyahu
which you say occurred 12 or 13 years ago."
The Prime Minister´s Office said in response: "Tony Gelbart, one of
the founders of Nefesh B´Nefesh, which encourages Jewish immigration
to Israel, is among the greatest contributors to the state. The prime
minister would be happy to continue to praise any individual whose
contribution to the state is as great."
"John Gandel, among the largest contributors to the ´computer for
every child´ project, is also deserving of thanks on behalf of the
state. A greeting for his 70th birthday is an appropriate and
George Birnbaum was not available for comment. (Copyright 2012 ©
Yedioth Internet 06/01/12)
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