Crime and Punishment

Case 4000: Benjamin Netanyahu, wife bribed Bezeq, Walla News website?

The indictment of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanhayu and his wife Sara Netanyahu as well as media mogul Shaul Elovitch and his wife Iris Elovitch was recommended by the Israel Police on December 2, 2018. The investigation of the bribery and corruption charges against the four is called Case 4000.

Shaul is the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, the largest Israeli telecommunications firm that owns the Israeli news website Walla. According to investigators, Benjamin was behind regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul in exchange for positive coverage of the Prime Minister from the news website.

The Israeli Police claimed that Benjamin and his associates regularly intervened in the content published by Walla News and through Shaul and Iris, they tried to influence the appointment of senior officials, including the editors and reporters. The Israel Security Authority participated in the investigation that lasted for nine months.

“The main suspicion is that the prime minister took bribes and acted with a conflict of interest by intervening and acting in regulatory decisions that favor Shaul Elovitch and the Bezeq Group, and at the same time directly and indirectly demanded interference with the content of the Walla site in a way that would benefit him,” the Israeli Police and the Israel Securities Authority said in a joint statement obtained by Times of Israel. The statement added that Benjamin used his office to promote Shaul’s regulatory affairs, including the issue of the merger of Bezeq and the Yes satellite TV company.

In addition, the police recommended Walla News CEO Ilan Yeshua for bribery charges. On Benjamin’s behalf, Sara coordinated coverage at the news website with Iris and Yeshua.

As recommended by the police, Benjamin should be charged with bribery, fraud, breach of trust and aggravated fraudulent receipt of an item while Sara should be charged with bribery, fraud, breach of trust and obstruction of justice. In response, Benjamin said that the recommendations to indict him and his wife is not surprising and hinted that the timing of the announcement was suspect.

“These recommendations were decided on and leaked even before the investigations began,” Benjamin said in a statement obtained by Haaretz. “The police recommendations have no legal standing. Only recently, authorized officials totally rejected police recommendations regarding a number of public figures. I am certain that the authorized officials, after considering the matters, will reach the same conclusion in this case as well that there was nothing because there is nothing.”

Prior to Case 4000, Benjamin was involved in two other cases. Case 1000 accuses him of receiving from his billionaire friends while Case 2000 accuses him of negotiating positive press coverage with Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes.

Meanwhile, here is a speech delivered by Benjamin earlier this year:

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