Israeli TV drops Netanyahu bombshell
Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu is said to have offered benefits to the owner of one of Israel’s largest-selling newspapers for favourable coverage
Tel Aviv — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under police investigation for suspected corruption, was caught on tape negotiating mutual benefits with an archfoe, the owner of one of Israel’s largest-selling newspapers, according to a television report on Sunday.
The report, which Israeli media outlets described as "an earthquake" that could have implications for Netanyahu’s political future, drew no immediate comment from the prime minister or Noni Mozes, the owner of daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
Channel 2 television said the right-wing leader had offered to limit the circulation of Israel Hayom, a free, pro-Netanyahu daily paper owned and published by US billionaire and Republican Party donor Sheldon Adelson, if Yedioth Ahronoth gave the prime minister more favourable coverage.
Steps to cut Israel Hayom’s market-leading circulation could have financial benefits for Mozes, whose newspaper’s advertising revenues have been hit by its free competitor.
It was unclear exactly when the reported conversation took place. The Haaretz daily said it occurred several months ago.
Police questioned Netanyahu twice last week in two different cases. Police and the justice ministry said one case involved receiving gifts including expensive cigars and champagne, from businessmen. Netanyahu’s lawyer said such presents from friends were not illegal.
Authorities have not released any details publicly about the second case.
That Netanyahu and Mozes would have a dialogue was greeted with close to astonishment by the Israeli media. Netanyahu has openly accused Mozes and Yedioth Ahronoth of trying to overthrow his leadership through skewed coverage, an allegation they deny.
On Sunday, before Channel 2 broadcast its report, Netanyahu again pointed the finger at the media and said he was being hounded. "This is wrong, incessant pressure from the media on law enforcement," he told ministers of his Likud party.
Netanyahu’s spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.