(photo credit: REUTERS)
Recordings of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conspiring to aid Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahoronot against its rival Israel Hayom in exchange for more favorable coverage were released by Channel 2 on Friday, including reference to Netanyahu attempting to find a buyer for Yediot.
According to the Channel 2 report, Netanyahu turned to a German businessman in hopes he would buy Yediot.
Channel 2 also released further details of recorded conversations between Netanyahu and Arnon “Noni” Mozes, publisher of Yediot Aharonot
, in which Netanyahu seemingly discussed passing legislation against the free distribution of Israel Hayom
in order to aide Mozes.
The widely circulated, freely distributed Israel Hayom
is the main competitor of Yediot
, and has significantly cut into the latter’s advertising revenue.
Excerpts from the conversation illustrate the the moves the two were planning:
Mozes: "What's the bottom line? How can we do this quickly?"
Netanyahu: "We can legislate it."
Here the prime minister referred to legislation in 2014 termed the “Israel Hayom bill,” which sought to end the paper’s free distribution. The bill did not become law.
Netanyahu then allegedly stated that he would ask Israel Hayom
owner Sheldon Adelson, who he referred to as "the gingy," or redhead, if such a law was acceptable to him.
Netanyahu: "I want to speak with the gingy (Sheldon Adelson), he'll be in Israel in two weeks."
Mozes: "We need to see how to do something he can live with, maybe a different law, I want to make it easier, not more difficult."
Netanyahu and Mozes also discussed the "issue of volume," seemingly referring to limiting the distribution of Israel Hayom
Mozes: "Regarding the issue of volume we spoke about... make it a compromise with him. I say this from a good place, not a bad one."
Netanyahu: "In my opinion it won't be okay with him but..."
Mozes: "We need a different law that circumvents the problem."
Mozes: "With Yariv (Likud MK Yariv Levin)?
Netanyahu: "Not with Yariv."
Mozes: "Bring whoever you want, it's none of my business."
MK Eitan Cabel then sponsored the so-called 'Israel Hayom bill," which was also referenced in their conversation.
Mozes: "We need Eitan Cabel (Labor MK) to come, and your man in the Knesset."
Netanyahu: "Eitan should say I want to reach a compromise, maybe convince him to come off the sweeping law (Israel Hayom bill)."
Mozes: Which Knesset committee is it going to?"
Netanyahu: "We establish a special committee."
The police reportedly obtained the audio recordings when they searched the cellphone and computer of Ari Harow, the prime minister’s former chief of staff, who was questioned in July.
Also on Friday, senior police officials said they would likely charge Netanyahu in both the Mozes case and a separate charge of illegally accepting gifts
and benefits from businessmen, according to a Channel 10 report.Eliyahu Kamisher and Udi Shaham contributed to this report.