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15/01/2017 | The Netanyahu tapes - A new scandal rocks Israel’s prime minister

The Economist Staff

But he insists there is nothing to explain.

 

FOR months, there have been reports of investigations into Binyamin Netanyahu’s financial affairs. Now, after two sessions of questioning by the police in his official residence and then a flurry of leaks to the press, things are looking serious. The biggest surprise was the identity of a mysterious businessman who was apparently recorded discussing matters of “mutual benefit” with the Israeli prime minister.

Arnon “Noni” Mozes, the secretive owner of Israel’s largest and most influential media group, has been considered Mr Netanyahu’s nemesis for years. In February 2015, at the height of the last election campaign, Mr Netanyahu wrote that “the primary force behind the wave of mudslinging against me and against my wife is Noni Mozes. He will stop at nothing to bring down the Likud government I head.” Now Israeli media reports say that the tapes show that the two enemies were holding secret meetings in which it is alleged that they were discussing a deal whereby the prime minister would receive favourable treatment from Mr Mozes’ Yedioth Ahronoth group. In return Mr Netanyahu would act to limit the distribution of Israel Hayom, a free sheet financed by Sheldon Adelson, an American casino owner who supports Mr Netanyahu.

The deal did not come to pass. Mr Netanyahu’s political rivals continued to receive the backing of Yedioth Ahronoth while Mr Adelson continued to pour hundreds of millions of shekels into the Netanyahu-supporting Israel Hayom. According to data published this week by Haaretz, an Israeli daily, Mr Adelson spent 730 million shekels ($190m) on the free sheet during its first seven years of operations, approximately a shekel for every copy of Israel Hayom handed out across the country.

The investigation could hurt not only Mr Netanyahu but also the two publishers. Israel Hayom has poached a big chunk of Yedioth Ahronoth’s advertising revenue. If Mr Netanyahu could indeed have prevailed on his benefactor to limit its distribution, this would have been worth millions to Mr Mozes and could constitute a bribe. Even though the deal never happened, the mere offering of a bribe might legally be seen as a criminal action. A criminal indictment would, in all likelihood, force the prime minister to resign.

It is of course far too early to write Mr Netanyahu’s political obituary. The decision on whether to press any charges will be that of the attorney-general, Avichai Mandelblit, a cautious lawyer whose previous job was as Mr Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary. He will be reluctant to indict unless he believes there is a watertight case. Mr Netanyahu has kept to his standard response that “there will be nothing because there is nothing” but has yet to comment directly on the latest allegations.

The case is not only about Mr Netanyahu’s political survival. Israel’s combative and relatively unfettered media have long been one of the strongest features of its democracy. Backroom deals between politicians and media-owners are of course a feature of every democracy, but this level of engagement rarely comes to light. Many Israeli journalists have been forced to ask themselves in recent days whose interests they are serving. 

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 



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03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House