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Israel’s Netanyahu Blows Off Illegal Cigar Charges

As Israeli police grill Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over gifts of cigars and champagne from billionaire friend Arnon Milchan, Netanyahu’s lawyer Yehuda Weinroth blew off the charges.

“Any reasonable person knows that there is nothing remotely criminal involved when a close friend gives his friend a gift of cigars,” the attorney told the Times of Israel. “We’re not talking about money, we’re not talking about loans, we’re not talking about anything that constitutes a crime.”

Police questioned Netanyahu for the second time this week in connection to possibly illegal gifts, zeroing in on the fine cigars and pink champagne he allegedly received for years from Milchan, a Hollywood producer with a large stake in Israel’s Channel 10.

Netanyahu has a widely reported taste for the good life and fine cigars. He is said to smoke cigars worth 15,000 to 20,000 shekels (around $4,000 to $5,500) each month. The Israeli premier has denied all accusations of wrongdoing, and says the investigation is politically motivated.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has said Netanyahu is suspected of “receiving improper benefits from businessmen,” but provided few details.

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at [email protected] or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon

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