Leaked: Netanyahu to be Indicted in Bezeq-Walla Affair, According to Reports
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has decided to file bribery charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair, says a senior legal official, according to Israel’s Ulpan Shlishi news program on Friday night.
According to the report, senior officials involved in advanced discussions say the decision has already been made to charge Netanyahu. Mandelblit has accepted the recommendation of the State Attorney’s Office, specifically that of the Tel-Aviv Financial and Tax District Office, to indict Netanyahu in Case 4000.
The Bezek-Walla Affair is a case in which Netanyahu allegedly received positive news coverage from website Walla!, which is owned by telecommunications giant Bezek in exchange for preferential regulatory treatment granted to the telecom giant.
Channel 12’s Mako news site reported that the prime minister’s attorneys responded to the news, saying: “On the eve of a meeting between us and the attorney general, there is no room for leaks aimed at sabotaging the meeting and damaging our right to be fairly heard.”
On Thursday, Mandelblit had invited Netanyahu’s attorneys on the matter of delaying a decision on whether to charge the prime minister until after the elections, according to the Mako website. The site reported that the letter sent from the attorney general’s office said that even elections were no reason to delay cases against public officials or candidates.
On December 3, the Israeli police recommended that Netanyahu be charged with bribery and fraud in Case 4000, together with his wife Sarah, and the controlling shareholder of Bezek at the time, Shaul Elovitch, along with others.
Netanyahu immediately denied the charges. In a speech on December 3, he said “Ask yourselves – what special thing did Elovitch receive from me? Not only didn’t he receive a thing during my period, he and Bezek lost massive capital. They say billions. What did I receive? I received terrible coverage in Walla!, particularly hostile on the eve of the elections.”
Netanyahu remains defiant in the face of calls from opposition leaders that he resign as a result of the bribery cases. At a press conference in Brazil on December 31, he said, “I don’t intend to resign because I believe there’s nothing [to the case]. Second, Israel is country of law and according to the law there’s no reason to resign before the conclusion of the hearing.”
“In a democracy you establish who’ll be in power according to the ballots,” he said. Netanyahu has said that the cases against him are part of a left-wing effort to influence the elections through the legal system, in effect subverting the democratic process. (WIN)
Netanyahu denounces Israeli TV channels as ‘propaganda’ brainwashing public ahead of elections
24 Jan, 2019
“Channels 12 and 13 will try to brainwash you every night with unending false and distorted leaks” from the ongoing criminal probes that have dogged his reelection campaign, Netanyahu warned in a tweet in Hebrew, warning that “Leaks from investigations are a criminal offense with a maximum three-year sentence!”
Even while dismissing Channel 13 as propaganda, Netanyahu sent his associates to the station to accuse State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan of “subverting democracy” by pushing Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to indict the PM on bribery charges before the election. Nitzan, they said, wanted to “be remembered” for taking down their boss.
Netanyahu’s lawyers demanded Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit investigate leaks from the probes, which they claim are splashing “new and sensational revelations” across the headlines on a daily basis. With elections just three months away, Netanyahu is apparently worried he may be indicted on bribery charges as early as next month.
The PM has denounced all who oppose him as part of a vast “left-wing conspiracy” with near-daily videos and tweets decrying the unjust persecution. His public communications have focused on little else since the election was moved up eight months in December after his Likud Party lost the support of former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party. Even a “dramatic” press announcement he scheduled earlier this month turned into a long-winded denunciation of the bribery probes, leading some media outlets to pack up and leave in the middle of his speech.
Chief among Netanyahu’s enemies, though, are the media, said to be determined to “steal” the April 9 contest in a “thuggish” and “inhumane” campaign to secure an indictment. Ironically, one of the bribery charges Netanyahu faces alleges that he paid newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth with regulatory favors in exchange for friendly coverage. The belligerent leader has also financed the erection of billboards at busy intersections denouncing “enemy” journalists.
While Netanyahu has already confirmed he will not step down if indicted, Israeli police recommended charges in all three of the bribery probes last month, and Mandelblit has said he is working “as quickly as possible” to make his findings public.
Netanyahu has so far tiptoed around explicitly accusing Mandelblit of political bias, but earlier this week he railed against the AG for giving a TV interview to Channel 12 in which unnamed legal associates suggest Mandelblit plans to indict on at least one of the bribery cases.
MPs from Netanyahu’s own party have denounced the investigation as a “witch hunt.”
Though most of Israel’s political parties are to the left of Netanyahu’s hardline Likud, dark horse former IDF commander Benny Gantz has made some headway with campaign spots openly boasting of killing Palestinian civilians during Operation Protective Edge and is currently polling just 11 points behind Netanyahu. Tamar Zandberg, head of the left-wing Meretz party, is also concerned about the media meddling in the upcoming elections – though she thinks it’s Netanyahu who stands to benefit.