Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the room after a news conference at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 30, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was questioned Friday in what is expected to be the last round of questioning in Case 4000, also called the "Bezeq Affair".
The interrogation, held at the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence, lasted around four hours.
“We hereby confirm that the prime minister was interrogated at his residence in Jerusalem as part of an investigation conducted by the Lahav 433 National Crime Unit and the Israel Securities Authority,” said a joint statement by the two security bodies.
“The investigation is being conducted with the assistance of the state attorney and with the approval of the Attorney-General. We cannot elaborate on additional details from ongoing investigations,” the statement concluded.
Channel 2 reported police investigators were thought to have gathered sufficient evidence of bribery to recommend indicting Netanyahu.
In Case 4000, the prime minister is alleged to have ordered top aide Shlomo Filber – whom he appointed as director-general of the Communications Ministry – to issue favorable rulings for Bezeq. That reportedly included getting anti-trust regulators to approve Bezeq’s merger with satellite TV unit Yes.
Bezeq’s news site Walla has been accused of exchanging that favor for giving positive coverage to Netanyahu and his wife, with the prime minister’s aide Nir Hefetz managing the contact. Hefetz agreed to become a state’s witness, testifying against his former boss.
Shaul Elovitch, the owner of Walla, its controlling shareholder and former Bezeq chairman, is said to have coordinated the coverage.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is certain that Case 4000 has officially fallen apart,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement later on Friday.
“The data proves unequivocally that Walla’s coverage of Netanyahu under Elovitch remained as negative as it had been when Walla was under the ownership of Amos Shocken, and did not change when Netanyahu became communications minister,” the statement continued. “On the other hand, it was the other communications ministers who, after taking office, received a tremendous boost in positive coverage – not only in Walla but also in major media outlets in Israel.”
“No one claims, and rightly so, that there is anything wrong with this. But Netanyahu did not have such an improvement, and therefore for this reason too, Case 4000 is crumbling,” the PMO said.
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the accusations.
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