For years, Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam were the greatest U.S.-based supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Adelson even started a free newspaper, Israel Hayom, that became known for its pro-Netanyahu editorial line.
But the ongoing criminal investigations of Netanyahu, one of which relates directly to his relationship with Adelson’s newspaper, may have driven a wedge between the two.
Adelson, who was also questioned by investigators in the case, was given a chance on Monday to publicly express his support for Netanyahu in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio.
But Adelson passed.
“I don’t know anything about it,” Adelson said when asked about the upcoming announcement of whether Netanyahu will be indicted. Pressed on whether he wishes for the Israeli prime minister to emerge without a criminal charge, Adelson replied: “I wish for peace. I wish I could tell my wife what to do and I wish for peace.”
“But do you wish for Benjamin Netanyahu something?” the reported insisted.
“I wish for everybody good things,” Adelson replied.
Adelson’s refusal to back Netanyahu did not go unnoticed. Naftali Bennett, the leader of Israel’s right-wing Jewish Home party and the politician reportedly seen as Adelson’s pick to succeed Netanyahu, said he has “great appreciation” to the Vegas billionaire and noted that Adelson’s daily newspaper has seen a positive shift in its editorial line, presumably away from Netanyahu.
Adelson Avoids Publicly Backing Netanyahu
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.