One in all former Prime Minister
closest advisers testified in opposition to him Monday in a long-running corruption case that might determine the political destiny of Israel’s longest-serving chief.
The trial has turn into one of many starkest symbols of the reversal of fortunes for Mr. Netanyahu, who led the nation for 15 years till he did not kind a authorities this spring. Prosecutors say Mr. Netanyahu accepted costly presents from rich businessmen in change for official favors and provided two media moguls regulatory and monetary advantages in change for optimistic press protection.
One of many prosecution’s key witnesses, Nir Hefetz, labored in Mr. Netanyahu’s inside circle for years, cultivating press protection of the chief and his household whereas working as a go-between for the Netanyahus and highly effective businesspeople. On Monday, Mr. Hefetz stated Mr. Netanyahu was obsessed along with his picture within the press and on social media whereas in energy.
“His management over every part referring to media issues and in his social media channels couldn’t be increased,” Mr. Hefetz testified, along with his former boss wanting on within the courtroom.
Mr. Netanyahu—who turned the primary sitting Israeli prime minister to be indicted—has denied the fees and accuses Israeli prosecutors of conducting a political witch-hunt in opposition to him.
In his testimony Monday, Mr. Hefetz detailed the connection between the prime minister and Israeli media mogul
Mr. Netanyahu and his spouse Sara are accused of utilizing their reference to Mr. Elovitch, the then-majority shareholder of telecom agency Bezeq, to affect protection on the Bezeq-owned Walla information website between 2012 to 2017. In return, prosecutors say, Mr. Netanyahu promoted regulation that may profit Bezeq’s backside line.
The previous editor in chief and chief govt of the information website have taken the stand describing the stress they confronted from Mr. Netanyahu—primarily by way of his allies—to revise, take away or bury articles crucial of the Netanyahu household, together with tales about costly candles and excessive water payments on the prime minister’s residence, and to advertise optimistic protection.
Mr. Hefetz stated Mr. Netanyahu made him the purpose man with Mr. Elovitch and Walla, the place he stated he had a direct line with its former CEO,
“[I was] informed I might communicate with Walla editor Yeshua and he’d deal with me, that means not me, however the prime minister,” he stated.
The favors Mr. Netanyahu did for Mr. Elovitch had been estimated to be value $520 million, in accordance with the indictment. Bezeq declined to remark. A lawyer for the Elovitch household stated they deny the fees.
The trial will proceed on Tuesday.
Mr. Hefetz, a former journalist, stood by the prime minister till his personal arrest in 2018 in relation to Mr. Netanyahu’s corruption case. Later, he agreed in a plea deal to be a state witness in opposition to Mr. Netanyahu in return for immunity.
Testimony on Monday didn’t embrace any smoking weapons, however the scene underscored the grim actuality going through Mr. Netanyahu, who has had former allies activate him.
Extra on Benjamin Netanyahu
One in all his former occasion members,
who defected from Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud Social gathering final 12 months and joined the present authorities in June, has proposed a invoice that may stop anybody going through prison expenses from forming a authorities. Mr. Netanyahu and his allies have referred to as the invoice a focused try to forestall the previous prime minister from returning to energy earlier than the trial is over. Mr. Sa’ar denies the laws is aimed toward his one-time boss.
Mr. Netanyahu, who remains to be fashionable inside Likud, has seen a problem for the group’s management from longtime ally
Nevertheless most political pundits see Mr. Netanyahu remaining the occasion’s chief for the foreseeable future.
“Netanyahu could be very sturdy inside the Likud and inside the right-wing bloc,” stated Gideon Rahat, chairman of the division of political science on the Hebrew College of Jerusalem. “I don’t assume he might be changed until he’s prepared to surrender.”
Earlier this 12 months, Mr. Netanyahu, who remains to be enjoys help amongst Israeli voters, was tasked with forming a authorities however did not clinch the coalition companions wanted.
Instantly after shedding energy, Mr. Netanyahu embraced his position as head of the opposition, difficult the federal government on any invoice up for a vote. However with time, the opposition has misplaced steam and self-discipline in parliament, stated Mr. Rahat.
The trial is predicted to proceed for years. If discovered responsible, Mr. Netanyahu might resist 10 years in jail.
Corrections & Amplifications
Ilan Yeshua is the CEO of on-line information website Walla. An earlier model of this text incorrectly recognized him because the editor of the positioning. (Corrected on Nov. 24, 2021)
—Dov Lieber in Tel Aviv contributed to this text.
Write to Thomas Grove at email@example.com
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