Sheldon Adelson Set to Testify in “Case 2000” Probe, Furious at Rex Tillerson for Policy Change

Saturday, May 13th, 2017 | Written by April Bergman
Sheldon Adelson Set to Testify in “Case 2000” Probe, Furious at Rex Tillerson for Policy Change

Casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson made news in the political world on two continents this weekend. First, it was announced that the Las Vegas casino mogul would testify in a key Israeli corruption probe.

Adelson’s name also was discussed in relation to the United States’ role in the Middle East peace process. According to the new online journalism site, Axios, which was founded by Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen of Politico fame, the casino mogul is furious at a policy change announced this weekend by members of the Trump Administration. The Case 2000 news is the one with the most political impact, though.

Sheldon Adelson, who owns the world’s largest gaming enterprise, is a power broker in American and Israeli politics. The casino mogul owns the Israeli newspaper with the largest circulation in the country, Israel Hayom, which puts forward views in line with its conservative Likud Party. The casino executive also was the single-largest donor to Republican Party causes in the 2012 and 2016 US national elections.

Those interests intersected this weekend, showing the key role the octogenarian gaming executive plays in American and Israeli politics.

Adelson to Give “Case 2000” Testimony

Sheldon Adelson is expected to provide testimony in an ongoing Israeli corruption probe involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both Sheldon and his wife, Miriam Adelson, agreed to give testimony in the Case 2000 probe.

The “Case 2000” investigations involved recordings of a conversation between Yediot Aharanot publisher Arnon Mozes and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

The corruption probe focuses on whether Arnon Mozes, a longtime publishing rival of Sheldon Adelson’s, plotted with Netanyahu to outlaw Adelson’s free newspaper, Israel Hayom, in exchange for favorable coverage of the prime minister.

What Is the “Case 2000” Scandal?

Netanyahu vehemently denies the charges, pointing to the fact Israel Hayom has provided solid news and commentary for the Likud Party since the newspaper was launched in 2007. Yediot Aharanot was the dominant newspaper in Israel prior to Adelson offered a free alternative, so some believe Netanyahu would prefer to have support from a more establishment newspaper — or is concerned Adelson might throw his influence to one of Netanyahu’s more hardline right wing politicians, like Neftali Bennett.

Both Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are expected to arrive in Israel a few days before US President Donald Trump arrives in the country for a visit with Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Channel 2 News, the Adelsons will stay a few days beyond President Trump’s visit.

Adelson Furious at Rex Tillerson

Axios reports that Sheldon Adelson is furious about an interview U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. Quoting two sources, Axios said that Adelson was furious with the Secretary of State for walking back Donald Trump’s earlier promises to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Rex Tillerson said that moving the US embassy would be contingent on the peace process between the Israelis and the Palestinians. During the presidential campaign, President Donald Trump said he would move the US embassy to Jerusalem. Moving the embassy has long been seen as a sign by hardliners in the United States and Israel of America’s commitment to Israel’s defense.

Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem

That move took on a special significance in recent months. In the waning days of the Obama Administration, the United States declined to veto a U.N. Resolution critical of Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank. In light of that failure to defend Israel in the United Nations, moving the embassy was seen as a way for President Trump to show his early commitment to Israel.

When Chuck Todd asked Tillerson about President Trump’s campaign promise, Tillerson replied that the new US president “wants to put a lot of effort into seeing if we cannot advance a peace initiative between Israel and Palestine.

The US Secretary of State added that Donald Trump is being more cautious with US actions now that he is in office, than what he might have suggested as a candidate. Tillerson added, “The President is being very careful to understand how such a decision [moving the embassy] would impact a peace process.”

Sheldon Adelson’s Political Advice to Donald Trump

According to the Axios report, Sheldon Adelson has advised Donald Trump not to tie the embassy move to political progress, or he would signal to the Palestinians weakness. Adelson reportedly told Trump that the Palestinians “are impossible negotiating partners and make demands that Israel can never meet.

Because Sheldon Adelson donated $80 million to Republican campaigns in the 2016 US Presidential Election, the CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp is thought to have influence in GOP political decisions. Adelson donated $5 million to Donald Trump’s inauguration and was a part of the Inauguration Committee handpicked by Donald Trump.

Political Blowback for Adelson’s Stances

Sheldon Adelson’s various political causes have made the Las Vegas gaming executive a target in the past. When it appeared that Iran and the United States would reach an accommodation over Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Adelson suggested that Benjamin Netanyahu should send Israel’s air force to bomb Iran’s facilities. Later that year, Las Vegas Sands was the target of a cyber-attack which targeted the company’s player database.

After a months-long investigation by the FBI’s Cyber-Warfare Unit, the FBI announced that the cyber-attack was the work of the Iranian government.