Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the editor of the pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom, Amos Regev, 15 times in 19 days ahead of the 2013 election, and often just before the paper was sent to press, according to data Netanyahu submitted on Sunday as demanded by the Supreme Court.
On Thursday, Netanyahu revealed that he spoke some 200 times to then-editor Regev and 100 times to the newspaper’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, between 2012 and 2015, but only Sunday did he reveal the times of the calls. The court called for the revelations after Netanyahu lost a case to Channel 10 reporter Raviv Drucker.
Drucker reported Sunday that the lead headlines of Israel Hayom
on mornings after Netanyahu and Regev spoke included allegations that US president Barack Obama was interfering in the election, and that Bayit Yehudi, a rival of Netanyahu’s Likud, discriminated against women.
There were also three calls from Netanyahu to Adelson immediately after a Knesset vote in late 2014 in favor of a bill intended to shut the newspaper down.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak took to Twitter Sunday evening to say the numbers indicated that Netanyahu was the real editor of the newspaper. He said Israel Hayom
amounted to an illegal political contribution, that Netanyahu submitted false documents denying ties to the paper, and that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and State Comptroller Joseph Shapira must take action.
Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson wrote to Mandelblit and Shapira on Sunday saying they should investigate the connections between Netanyahu and the newspaper. Channel 2 reported that Shapira was seriously considering the request.
“The smoking gun has been uncovered,” Hasson said in a statement, referring to the letter. “Netanyahu lied for years in his legal declarations, speeches and interviews.”
Hasson added that just ahead of the 2015 election, Netanyahu submitted a document to the Central Elections Committee in which he said he had no control over or connection to Israel Hayom
. But the MK said the “astronomic” amount of calls to the newspaper’s leadership proved otherwise.
“Netanyahu enjoys a newspaper that serves as a propaganda tool that is intended first and foremost for him and the continuation of his tenure as prime minister,” Hasson said. “This constitutes the largest forbidden contribution a political party has ever received. This is the time to stop hiding and allow the criminal truth of Netanyahu and the Likud to be revealed.”