Mendelblit: Prime minister broke law in talks with Yedioth Ahronoth 

Source: Mendelblit: Prime minister broke law in talks with Yedioth Ahronoth – Israel Hayom

Mozes’ actions attempted bribery, Mendelblit says.

Avi Cohen // published on 01/03/2019
Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes 

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit made harsh accusations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday when he informed his lawyers that he seeks to indict Netanyahu in Case 2,000 (as well as in two other cases) pending a pre-indictment hearing.

Case 2,000 focuses on an illicit deal Netanyahu allegedly tried to strike with Mozes under which Yedioth Ahronoth would soften its aggressive anti-Netanyahu stance in return for the prime minister working to pass legislation that would help Yedioth financially or use his influence to curtail Israel Hayom, Yedioth’s rival.

Mendelblit said Netanyahu will face one count of fraud and breach of trust if the indictment is eventually served, whereas Mozes will face one count of attempted bribery.

In his letter to Netanyahu’s lawyers, Mendelblit said that even though Netanyahu “did not ask or condition the receipt of a bribe he did not turn down Mozes’ suggestion, and chose to continue to talk with him extensively on the terms of his proposed bribery scheme. ”

According to Mendelblit, between 2008 and 2014, Netanyahu held extensive meetings with Mozes in three separate periods, during which they talked on the terms of their emerging deal.

After the first series of talks, in 2009, Mendelblit said Netanyahu talked with the owner of Israel Hayom Sheldon Adelson and asked to scrap the planned rollout of its weekend edition that year.

But this was unsuccessful and Mozes, according to Mendelblit, made it clear to Netanyahu that if the paper continued to print a weekend edition, Yedioth would print negative pieces on the prime minister and his family.

Mendelblit further said that after the Knesset election in 2013, Netanyahu arranged six or seven meetings with Mozes, of which there is no official record in his schedule.

During those meetings, the two supposedly agreed that Netanyahu would ask Adelson to end Israel Hayom’s free distribution or reduce it, in exchange for favorable coverage in Yedioth. But according to Mendelblit, Adelson refused to heed both options.

The third round of talks were in 2014 was the most critical, Mendelblit told Netanyahu’s lawyers. Two of those talks, held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, were secretly recorded by Netanyahu or his staff.

During those talks, the two allegedly discussed possible legislation that would curtail Israel Hayom’s activity and reduce its distribution by about a third.

According to Mendelblit, after those meetings, Netanyahu’s lawyer and cousin David Shimron warned him that he must make sure that his actions would not be tied to Mozes’ request lest he gives Mozes a quid pro quo.

Mendelblit says Netanyahu did not plan to follow through on this legislation, but he nevertheless refused to rule it out. “You did not end the conversation, but rather chose to present him with a realistic option of using your powers to promote legislation that would be of benefit to him and in line with the proposed bribe,” Mendelblit said.

Mozes’ lawyers issued a statement Thursday saying: “Mozes did not offer a bribe. A comprehensive view of the complex discourse between the two, as we will present before the attorney general during the hearing, does not support a criminal interpretation but rather contradicts it.”


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