Netanyahu’s Alleged Billion-Shekel Bribe in Exchange for Positive Coverage
Israel’s prime minister remains under serious threat of indictment for a whole list of alleged incidents of corruption
On November 2, the Israel Police decided to recommend indicting Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, with bribery, fraud and breach of public trust. Along with the Netanyahu’s, the police also recommended indicting the prime minister’s alleged partner, Shaul Elovitch, owner of Bezeq, the largest telecommunication company in Israel, and of the Walla news portal.
Such was the conclusion of an 18-month investigation into what’s known as “Case 4000.”
Now, for those who can’t make heads nor tails of the various charges Netanyahu faces, since 2016 he has been either a suspect or person of interest in no fewer than five cases of alleged corruption. Case 1000 has been looking into the gifts Netanyahu and his family received from wealthy friends, at least some of which are suspected of being bribes. Chief among those gifts has been a steady supply of expensive champagne and cigars.
Case 2000 has been investigating the nature of conversations Netanyahu had with media tycoon Noni Moses, owner of the daily Yediot Ahronot. The alleged bribe comes in the form of Netanyahu proposing to endorse legislation harming the free commuter daily Israel Hayom, Yediot‘s chief competitor, in exchange for more positive coverage in Moses’ newspaper.
Case 3000 deals with alleged bribes given to Israeli brokers in return for signing a deal with a German company that would be commissioned to build seven submarines for the Israel Navy. Netanyahu was accused of knowing about the corruption, and even requested to buy unneeded submarines to somehow profit indirectly from the deal. So far, this is the only case in which suspicions against Netanyahu were dropped.
Case 4000 is investigating a deal Netanyahu allegedly made when he was Communication Minister between himself and Bezeq’s major shareholder, Shaul Elovitch. Netanyahu is said to have advanced Bezeq’s acquisition of Elovitch’s holdings in satellite television provider Yes, a deal worth one billion dollars. All that in exchange for positive coverage of the private affairs of Netanyahu and his family. This case yielded the police recommendation to press charges against Netanyahu and his wife for bribery, fraud and breach of public trust.
Case 1270 is looking into the suspicion that Netanyahu’s former media advisor offered District Court President Hila Gerstel an appointment to the vacated position of Attorney General of Israel in exchange for closing a case against Netanyahu’s wife, an offer Gerstel refused.
These five ongoing cases are in addition to a further 10 cases of alleged corruption that Netanyahu has faced since 1997, none of which could ever be proved. Add to this the separate charges against Sara Netanyahu–which range from bribery to mistreating employees at the Prime Minister’s Residence to misuse of state funds to order expensive catering–and a pretty disturbing picture emerges. Depending on which side of the political spectrum one stands, the prime minister and his wife are either thoroughly corrupt, or are the victims of a “witch hunt” aimed at returning the Left to power at any cost.
Netanyahu himself has repeated time and again that nothing will come of all the investigations because he has done no wrong. In a speech he gave on the day the Police announced its recommendation to indict him, Netanyahu said that he knew all along it would come to this. “These recommendations,” he said, “were decided on and leaked even before the investigations began. I am certain,” he continued, that investigators will come to the conclusion “that there was nothing because there is nothing.”
If Netanyahu is right, and his constituency is convinced that he is, what he says means that there are powerful forces trying every which way to get rid of a legitimately-elected prime minister. Netanyahu, one must remember, is hated by the Left for what they call his “inciting” rhetoric in the 1996 election campaign, after which Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated and Netanyahu ultimately rose to power. In this camp’s eyes, Netanyahu is the archenemy of peace, which justifies using every available means to overthrow him, including suspending all democratic norms until the government is back in the hands of those who dream of a peace that will end all peace.