IMRA Introduction

Nahum Manbar, a product of the Labor movement who contributed heavily to the campaigns of many in the Labor Party – including Yitzchak Rabin, was sentenced recently for selling material to Iran for the manufacture of non-conventional weapons. His ties to the party were further illustrated when a Labor MK testified as a character witness during the sentencing hearing that Manbar deserved a break since he contributed to building a memorial to the assassinated Rabin. Before sentencing, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the press that Manbar’s crime was without precedent. Defense attorney Zichroni, charged that a former member of his defense team, Pninat Yanai, had an illicit relationship with the senior judge on the case, Amnon Strashnov, and supplied information used in prosecuting Manbar. Through the alleged relationship with the judge, Yanai is alleged to have learned that the judge was in contact with Prime Minister Netanyahu during the course of the case. The entire story has been labeled the “Manbar-Strashnov Affair”. All of the claims have been denied.

Manbar’s relations with the top flight politicians in Israel, and in particular with the heads of the Labor Party, heated the flames of the debate which took place over the Strashnov Affair. A leak came out from around Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu claiming that the previous prime ministers, Yitzchak Rabin and Shimon Peres, declined to act against Manbar because of his contributions to the Labor Party. In the meantime this balloon was loudly exploded, when all the heads of the legal system made it clear that the investigation of Manbar’s activities already began during Rabin’s period, and when it became clear in a conversation recorded by Manbar’s wife Francine, that Pninat Yanai knew from Netanyahu’s spokesman, Shai Bazak, of the intention to defame the heads of the Labor Party even before the end of the trial. Manbar himself has no interest in relating to the political gain which was attempted to be made from his trial. But he certainly has an interest in tying his name, as much as possible, to the heads of the Israeli government.

Question: Who did you meet with and why?

Manbar: I met with Peres at least three times. Once in the presence of MK Daliah Itzik. I had some suspicions. I felt that there were people, who for reasons I can’t detail now, painted me in the wrong colors, and I wanted for Peres to allay these concerns. Peres wasn’t the only one I met. I hosted Mrs. Leah Rabin in France with my wife. Eight days before Rabin was assassinated I was invited to a gala ball organized by the Tel Aviv Museum which I contributed to. I sat at the same table as Police Inspector General Gabi Last, who was then deputy commander of the police, and with Leah Rabin, and also Yitzchak Rabin himself joined us for a quarter hour. So I ask you, is it logical that a prime minister sits at the same table with someone who he knows is being investigated by the Mossad? It could only be if the information which that same prime minister has made it clear that there was nothing against me.

Question: Peres confirms that he met with you, but he claims that he doesn’t recall the topics of the conversations and their nature.

Manbar: Peres says that he doesn’t remember me. And I say that that he remembers me very well. I met him also an additional time regarding the establishment of “tolerance square” in Paris. But I don’t want just to talk about members of the Labor Party and not just Shimon Peres. Suddenly they don’t remember me. Everyone is running away from me. One day they will yet return. After I am exonerated. But then I won’t want them back.