Netanyahu probes: A guide for the perplexed

Here's why Shlomo Filber's turning on Prime Minister Netanyahu makes indictment almost a sure thing.

By
February 23, 2018 12:19
4 minute read.
Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem January 7, 2018. . (photo credit: ABIR SULTAN / REUTERS)

 
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An MK defending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the radio earlier this week got so confused as he discussed the many investigations that he openly admitted he was a bit lost.

Below is a short guide for the perplexed to unpack some of the key points and characters in the five ever-evolving probes implicating Netanyahu, top aides, or both.

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Case 1000 – The Illegal Gifts Affair

Netanyahu admits that billionaires Arnon Milchan and James Packer gave him and Sara Netanyahu expensive cigars, champagne and other gifts worth a total of some NIS 1 million over several years.

He admits that he undertook various acts to assist Milchan in various business and personal areas.

The prime minister denies that there was a connection between the gifts and the assistance to Milchan or that there were not good policy reasons for assisting Milchan.

Netanyahu’s main political opponent, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, is a witness against Netanyahu regarding one of the tax issues where Netanyahu tried to help Milchan.

The police have recommended indicting the prime minister for bribery, but Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit decides whether to indict or not. Until Case 4000 and the Attorney-General Job Affair came along, this was the prime minister’s biggest legal worry.

Case 2000The Yediot-Israel Hayom Affair

Netanyahu admits that he talked with Yediot Aharonot owner Arnon “Noni” Mozes about Yediot shifting its coverage to favor the prime minister, if he leaned on his friend, Israel Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson, to reduce areas it competed with Yediot to benefit Mozes financially.

The prime minister denies that the talks were real and says they were an elaborate game to record Mozes and hold it over him if Mozes tried to somehow blackmail Netanyahu at some point.

Also, real or not, nobody disputes that the deal never went through.

The police have recommended indicting the prime minister for bribery, but again Mandelblit decides, and The Jerusalem Post has learned that he has viewed this case as the weakest one.

Case 3000 – The Submarine Affair

Miki Ganor, ThyssenKrupp’s sales representative in Israel, and other top Israeli defense officials and top aides to Netanyahu are accused of committing fraud and skimming off the top in a deal for Israel to buy nuclear submarines from the German company.


Netanyahu lawyer and confidante David Shimron, his top personal foreign envoy Yitzhak Molcho, his former chief of staff David Sharan, his former deputy national security adviser Avriel Bar Yosef and former navy chief Eliezer Marom, are all accused of being part of the scheme.

Technically, Netanyahu is not yet a suspect.

However, after Mandelblit repeated for six months that he is not a suspect, he now admits the prime minister will be questioned. That means he may become a suspect, and soon. The police are still mid-investigation.

Case 4000 – The Bezeq-Walla Affair

In one week, this case moved from a case removed from Netanyahu to the case that is most likely to lead to an indictment and to topple him. His former top aide Shlomo Filber has admitted to cutting a bribery deal with Shaul Elovitch. Filber, then director-general of the Communications Ministry, would make sure state policy favored Bezeq, in which Elovitch owned a controlling interest, in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister from the major news site Walla!, which Elovitch also owned.

On Wednesday night Filber turned state’s witness against Netanyahu, and he is accusing the prime minister of having ordered him to carry out the scheme.

This is the first Netanyahu aide to directly accuse him of a crime. While former Netanyahu chief of staff Ari Harow turned state’s witness for Cases 1000 and 2000, he mainly filled in details for police, and there are no reports that he directly accused the prime minister of a crime.

With Netanyahu denying the allegations, the case to some extent comes down to whether you believe Filber or Netanyahu.

Judging between two witnesses is exactly the job of a court and is the exact reason why it is hard to see how this case does not lead to an indictment.

Any indictment has a very strong chance of toppling the prime minister, no matter what politicians are saying at this stage. However, the probe is still in the early stages.

• The Attorney-General Job Affair Top Netanyahu communications adviser Nir Hefetz is accused of offering ex-judge Hila Gerstl the job of attorney-general in exchange for a promise to close the criminal cases against Sara Netanyahu.

Hefetz denies the charge, but is in deep jeopardy here facing an ex-judge with tremendous credibility, and the fact that Gerstl reported the bribe offer, which she refused, to Supreme Court President Esther Hayut.

Many say Hefetz will turn state’s witness against Netanyahu, which would also make an indictment almost a certainty. But Hefetz has not turned to date. The probe is still in the early stages.

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