May 20, 2019

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Netanyahu Indictment Closer as Israeli Prosecutor Seeks Charges

Netanyahu Indictment Closer as Israeli Prosecutor Seeks Charges
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In that case, Mr. Netanyahu is accused of aiding the owner of Walla, a leading Israeli news website, in return for the site’s suppressing or softening coverage about the prime minister and his family and treating his opponents roughly.

In one example, Mr. Mandelblit said, Mr. Netanyahu demanded that Walla publish prominently, on Election Day in 2015, his now-notorious video warning to right-wing supporters that Arabs were heading to the polls “in droves” — an appeal for which the prime minister later apologized.

Mr. Mandelblit said that the evidence showed that Mr. Netanyahu had gone out of his way to aid the company’s principal owner, Shaul Elovitch, as “compensation” for the favorable coverage, and that this warranted the charge of bribery, along with charges of fraud and breach of trust.

[The cases against Mr. Netanyahu, explained.]

In the second case, the prosecution said that the Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, an expatriate Israeli, aided by the Australian billionaire James Packer, sent gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, and that Mr. Netanyahu in return promoted legislation that could benefit Mr. Milchan, though it was blocked by the Finance Ministry.

In the third, Mr. Netanyahu was accused of discussing with the publisher of Yediot Ahronot, one of Israel’s biggest newspapers, the possibility of a deal for favorable coverage: He would press a competing newspaper, Israel Hayom, to curtail its free circulation, and in return Yediot Ahronot would treat Mr. Netanyahu more kindly. Israel Hayom is owned by Sheldon Adelson, the American billionaire casino owner who is a devoted supporter of Mr. Netanyahu’s.

The deal was never completed, investigators said.

In the second and third cases, Mr. Mandelblit said that Mr. Netanyahu should be charged with fraud and breach of trust.

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