Shaul Elovitch, owner of the Bezeq telecommunications company..
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Why does Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul Elovitch’s admission (according to Channel 10) that he influenced his website’s coverage to be biased toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu matter?
Until now, the leaks regarding Elovitch’s narrative were that he denied allegations by Walla chief editor Ilan Yeshua that he had ordered him to swing coverage in favor of Netanyahu.
Yeshua had given meticulous detail about Elovitch intervening about specific wording in specific headlines in favor of the prime minister.
In the aftermath of Netanyahu and Elovitch being confronted with allegations not only by Yeshua but also by former Netanyahu top adviser Nir Hefetz, it has been leaked that Elovitch has shifted his story.
He now confirms Yeshua’s allegations against him, but says that he did this out of fear of retribution from the prime minister and his wife, Sara – not for a bribe relating to Netanyahu ordering favorable government policies for Bezeq.
This is not great for Elovitch, as he now has to account for why he changed his story.
Also, his story is now closer to resembling the allegations against him, and it would seem it is even easier now to prove he was bribed, even if he denies that part of the allegations.
Why does this matter to Netanyahu?
If there is a trial, and a court concludes that Elovitch tilted coverage of Walla in favor of Netanyahu, it is more likely also to conclude that there was a bribery scheme to repay Elovitch with favorable treatment for Bezeq.
If the court ties Elovitch and another five to six Bezeq, Communications Ministry and other officials into the scheme based on allegations from Yeshua, Hefetz and former Netanyahu campaign chairman and Communications Ministry director-general Shlomo Filber, it will find it difficult to accept that only the prime minister was not involved.
This is not a final nail in the legal coffin. Netanyahu can still argue that Elovitch’s mental state about biasing coverage for him was his own, and that the prime minister only discussed news coverage on an objective basis, like he did with other owners.
But if it is not a nail in the coffin, it certainly makes Netanyahu’s defense harder in a case that, with two top lieutenants pointing their fingers at him, was already tough.