(photo credit: REUTERS)
Opposition chairman Isaac Herzog appealed on Monday to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, demanding the removal of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from his position as communications minister.
In his appeal, Herzog claimed that recent media reports prove that Netanyahu has clear interests and direct connection to Israel Hayom.
In his appeal Herzog said if Netanyahu is not removed the Zionist Union would file a petition the Supreme Court in 48 hours.
“I am not happy at the expense of Netanyahu,” said Herzog during the Zionist Union weekly faction meeting.
“I already said that we will replace Netanyahu in the ballot boxes [and not due to his resignation].
“The reports on Netanyahu’s conversations with Yediot Aharonot
[publisher] Noni Mozes verifies the allegations that the news desk in Israel Hayom was and still is being operated by Netanyahu,” said Herzog, adding, “Now it is proved beyond any doubt.”
Herzog contended that Israel Hayom
is actually “a forbidden donation of millions [of NIS] to the Likud and to Netanyahu” because “it is a tool serving one candidate and one party.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also chimed in on Monday regarding Netanyahu’s investigation, expressing skepticism of the allegations.
“I’m not impressed by the fact that the media is demanding an indictment but doesn’t know the law,” Liberman said at a meeting of Yisrael Beytenu on Monday.
Netanyahu will reportedly be questioned for a third time by police this week. Channel 2 reported on Monday that the police have two recorded conversations of Netanyahu and Mozes allegedly negotiating sympathetic coverage of the prime minister in return for the weakening of Yediot
’s main competitor Israel Hayom.
According to Channel 2, the police have at least two recordings of Netanyahu speaking to Mozes in the Prime Minister’s Office, for approximately one hour each time. The first meeting was held prior to the dissolving of the Knesset in 2014 and the second meeting was held shortly after the Knesset dissolved, according to the report.
The recordings were reportedly made by Ari Harow, the prime minister’s former chief of staff, at Netanyahu’s request.
Police reportedly found the recording when they searched Harow’s phone and computer in July. Police also questioned Harow for 14 hours in July.
The Mozes-Netanyahu recordings could underpin the “Case 2000” against Netanyahu, which police have kept under wraps. Police are also investigating “Case 1000,” which deals with allegations that Netanyahu accepted expensive cigars and gourmet meals in an illegal manner from Israeli-born movie mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer. Case 1000 is more likely to lead to an indictment against Netanyahu, Hebrew media reported.
Police questioned Netanyahu under caution for a total of eight hours in two sessions last week regarding both cases.
Mozes and Netanyahu are often described as bitter rivals, thus, allegations of behind-the scenes machinations to rig the media have made a large splash in Israel. Israel Hayom, owned by Netanyahu confidante and US billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is a freely distributed newspaper generally seen as pro-Netanyahu that has become Yediot
’s main competitor.