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Netanyahu Receives Hefty Donations from US Patrons

By YnetNews.com

Despite criticism that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has harmed Israeli relations with the US, the Likud leader received more than half a million shekels in donations for the faction's primary from American benefactors.

Netanyahu received 538,783 shekels (approx $150,000) from 15 donors abroad – 14 of which are from the United States. The data was found on the State Comptroller's website – all politicians must report donations on the website. Netanyahu received donations from 14 American and one Spaniard between November 25th and December 15 and each one donated between $5,000 and $11,500.

The list published on the State Comptrollers website sites the names and locations of each donor and reveals that most of the American benefactors hail from New York, Los Angeles and Florida.

Netanyahu's rival in the Likud primaries, MK Danny Danon, received 261,120 shekels worth of donations. Ten of his benefactors are from the United States and one, who donated 5,000 shekels, is from Israel. Moshe Feiglin, who withdrew his candidacy, gathered a little over 220,000 shekels from 217 benefactors. Along with local benefactors from Jerusalem, Kfar Saba, and Yavne, Feiglin also received contributions from Canada, Australia, Brazil and the United States.

Within the Labor party, MK Nachman Shai received 79,352 shekels from donors hailing from the US, Canada and Israel. MK Michal Biran received NIS 8,100. Other Labor party nominees did not report receiving funds for the primaries.

In Naftali Bennett's Bayit Yehudi party, Bennett received 39,850 shekels from a New Yorker. Furthermore, MK Ayelet Shaked received 51,976 shekels from donors from the US and Israel. Newly announced candidate Ronen Shoval received NIS 100,000 – NIS 50,000 Shoval pledged himself and the other 50,000 was pledged by his father.


Israel's Bank Leumi to Pay $400 Million for U.S. Tax Settlement

By Reuters

Bank Leumi Le Israel BM, Israel's second largest bank, will pay $400 million to settle two separate investigations into whether it helped its U.S. clients evade taxes. The lender also fired some senior employees who engaged in misconduct and agreed to have an independent monitor review its compliance programs, the New York State Department of Financial Services said in a statement.

Bank Leumi had been negotiating for months with the U.S. Department of Justice and New York state to settle an investigation of possible tax evasion. The bank will pay the U.S. government a total of $270 million and the state department will receive $130 million.

"Bank Leumi employees engaged in a series of egregious schemes – including creating complex, sham loan arrangements – to help its U.S. clients shirk their responsibility to pay taxes," the state department's Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said in a statement. "What's worse, when certain Swiss banks began to put the brakes on this type of misconduct, Bank Leumi instead hit the accelerator even harder – viewing it as a `golden opportunity' to pick up new business," Lawsky said.

Israel's largest bank Hapoalim and fourth-largest lender Mizrahi-Tefahot are also being investigated.

U.S. efforts to crack down on Americans using offshore banks to evade taxes have largely focused on Swiss banks, but lenders in other countries are also under scrutiny. The investigation of Israeli banks started in 2011, two years after Swiss bank UBS AG was fined $780 million and it had to hand over client data to the United States.


Leaked File Reveals How CIA Instructed Agents on Methods to Keep Their Cover at Ben Gurion Airport

By Reuters

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency guides its people how to enter and exit Israel through Ben-Gurion International Airport without blowing their cover during security checks, according to a secret document revealed by WikiLeaks Sunday night.

The CIA document provides further evidence that Israel serves as a target for operations by the spy agency. The document, titled "CIA Assessment on Surviving Secondary Screening at Airports While Maintaining Cover" and dated September 2011, contains a long list of guidelines for operatives using false identities.

According to the document, it is based on original intelligence reports, opinions and testimonies of CIA operatives collected through May 2010. "Secondary screening – a potentially lengthy and detailed look by airport officials at passengers not passing initial scrutiny – can significantly stress the identities of operational travelers," reads the introduction. "Referral to secondary screening can occur if irregularities or questions arise during any stage of airport processing – immigration, customs, or security – and regardless of whether the traveler is arriving, in transit, or departing. Officials may also randomly select travelers."

Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport is among the airports mentioned in the document as being particularly thorough. The document details the reasons that could lead to security agents at Ben-Gurion to refer a traveler to secondary screening. "A review of clandestine reporting reveals examples of what various countries consider to be suspicious," it is written.

"Israel's security personnel focus on frequent travel to Islamic countries," the document explains. "Security personnel at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, commonly refer military-aged males traveling alone with backpacks to secondary screening, regardless of their nationality or skin color."

The document includes a detailed description of secondary checks at Ben-Gurion. "At Ben Gurion airport in Israel, the secondary screening room contains trace-detection equipment for explosive residue; tools for dismantling passengers' personal items for inspection, particularly items unfamiliar to security officers; and a disrobing area, divided by privacy curtains, to conduct strip searches of individuals, if necessary," according to the document.

The CIA's internal guide book also refers to an internal manual from 2004 published by International Consultants on Targeted Security, an Israeli-founded company, which provides security advice to various governments on matters such as profiling techniques. The manual reportedly "lists suspicious signs in passenger behavior, documentation, tickets, or baggage." The document adds, "Although dated, the ICTS guidelines probably are typical and remain valid."


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