A statement issued on Sunday says that Netanyahu is suspected of accepting bribes in exchange for policy decisions that favored Shaul Elovitch, a media mogul that controlled Israel’s largest telecom firm, Bezeq, and the Walla News website.
It’s believed that Netanyahu fired Communications Ministry Director-General Avi Berger and hired his loyalist and ex-campaign manager Shlomo Filber in order to provide Elovitch and his companies special treatment. In exchange, Netanyahu and his wife struck a deal with Elovitch, giving the Israeli prime minister favorable coverage on the Walla news site.
“Netanyahu and those close to him bluntly intervened, sometimes on a daily basis, with the content being published on the Walla news website, and sought to influence the appointment of senior employees (editors and reporters), while using their ties to Shaul and Iris Elovitch,” the police statement read.
If true, this would constitute bribery, as Netanyahu worked to set government policies that would increase monetary profits in exchange for positive media coverage.
Police recommended that charges also be brought against Elovitch and his wife. It’s now up to the State Prosecutor’s Office to decide whether charges will be filed.
Firing back, the prime minister said he fervently denied the charges – but wasn’t surprised that the police had decided to go public with them.
“These recommendations were decided on and leaked even before the investigations began,” the statement said. Netanyahu also expressed confidence that “authorized officials” will not press forward with the case, concluding instead that “there was nothing because there is nothing.”
The police have already urged that charges be brought against Netanyahu in two other cases: In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of unlawfully accepting gifts from billionaire friends, while in Case 2000, the prime minister is believed to have negotiated favorable press coverage with the owner of the popular Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth (Ynet).
Both Netanyahu and his wife have been hounded by corruption allegations. In June, Bibi was questioned by investigators about possible graft and corruption that led to the purchase of three Dolphin-class submarines and four Sa’ar 6-class corvettes from German shipbuilding company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.
A week later, his wife was indicted for allegedly misusing a total of 350,000 shekels (around US$96,000) in official funds to order extravagant meals at their official residence in Jerusalem between 2010 and 2013.
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