Editor ‘told to drop negative stories about Israel Prime Minister’
The first witness in Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial has said he
was told to make negative stories about the Israeli PM “disappear”.
Former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua alleged he was also ordered by the news website’s
owner, Shaul Elovitch, to post content that attacked Mr. Netanyahu’s rivals.
Prosecutors said Mr. Netanyahu made regulatory decisions worth hundreds
of millions of dollars to Mr. Elovitch in return for favorable coverage.
Both men have denied any wrongdoing.
The prime minister, who is being tried on charges of bribery, fraud and breach
of trust in connection with three separate cases, dismissed the hearing as a
“charade” and accused the prosecution of a “coup attempt”.
It comes as Israel’s president meets parliamentarians to ask whom they
support to form the next government following last month’s election.
The vote failed to end the long period of political stalemate that has
led to four elections in two years, leaving both Mr. Netanyahu‘s right-wing
bloc and the parties opposed to him short of a majority.
President Reuven Rivlin will consult party leaders this week, then nominate
who he thinks has the best chance of forming a new coalition government.
What is Benjamin Netanyahu accused of? – Editor ‘told to drop negative stories about Israel Prime Minister’
He has been indicted in three cases, known as 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000:
- Case 1,000 – Fraud and breach of trust: he is accused of receiving gifts – mainly cigars and bottles of champagne – from powerful businessmen in exchange for favors
- Case 2,000 – Fraud and breach of trust: Mr. Netanyahu is accused of offering to help improve the circulation of Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot in exchange for positive coverage
- Case 4,000 – Bribery, fraud and breach of trust: As PM and minister of communications at the time of the alleged offense, Mr. Netanyahu is accused of promoting regulatory decisions favorable to Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Israeli telecom giant Bezeq, in exchange for positive coverage by Mr. Elovitch’s Walla news site
Mr. Netanyahu has denied all the charges against him, branding them a
“witch-hunt” by his political opponents, and has vowed to clear his name.