How Netanyahu was toppled by Nir Hefetz - analysis

Hefetz was one of the two key former aides to turn on Netanyahu and become a state’s witness to help the state prosecution develop its public corruption cases against the former prime minister.

Nir Hefetz sits in the Magistrate Court during his remand hearing in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 22, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Nir Hefetz sits in the Magistrate Court during his remand hearing in Tel Aviv, Israel, February 22, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

Channel 13 on Thursday night aired extensive interviews with Nir Hefetz and recordings of his calls with key Netanyahu officials giving the comprehensive story of Hefetz’s rise and fall – with his fall leading to toppling of the former prime minister himself.

Hefetz was one of the two key former aides to turn on prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and become a state’s witness to help the state prosecution develop its public corruption cases against the former leader.

On the program Hamakor, Hefetz recounts critical meetings he had with former Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul Elovitch and Netanyahu, which are at the heart of the Case 4000 media bribery affair.

“In one meeting, he [Shaul Elovitch] gave me some papers and asked me to bring them to Netanyahu. I showed them to Netanyahu who read them [carefully] from start to finish.”

Nir Hefetz

Hefetz said that “in one meeting, he [Elovitch] gave me some papers and asked me to bring them to Netanyahu.”

Next, Hefetz stated, “I showed them to Netanyahu, who read them [carefully] from start to finish,” and then immediately called his secretary to set an appointment with Elovitch.

 PRIME MINISTER Yair Lapid and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu have opposing views of the Lebanon maritime agreement. Will the voters care on November 1? (credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90) PRIME MINISTER Yair Lapid and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu have opposing views of the Lebanon maritime agreement. Will the voters care on November 1? (credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Unlike Netanyahu’s testimony that he never discussed Bezeq and Walla policy issues with Elovitch, Hefetz said he snuck Elovitch into a meeting with the former prime minister through a side door to address just those topics.

Hefetz explained that Elovitch wanted Netanyahu to get his desired Bezeq merger with Yes media to be approved before the 2015 election in exchange for rallying Walla completely behind Netanyahu.

A major spin-off problem in all of this, said Hefetz, was Yair Netanyahu demanding that the Likud unleash scorched-earth attacks not just on then-Labor leaders Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, but also against then-Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett.

Media requests from Sara and Yair Netanyahu

Hefetz said some of the media requests from Yair and Sara Netanyahu were “very difficult to cope with on a professional level” in terms of their vulgarity and breaking norms.

In one recording, Sara slams former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin as a “half-wit” and “chutzpan [arrogant person] for refusing to place security at a residence that the Netanyahus usually left empty.

Further, Sara can be heard saying that all of the Shin Bet only cares about “covering their asses.”  

Moreover, Hefetz described Sara as controlling Netanyahu’s appointments, even regarding appointing national security council chiefs and military secretaries.

In another recording, Sara blew up at Hefetz over video footage of Netanyahu being filmed falling while getting into an IDF naval boat.

Many recordings are also with former top Netanyahu aide Gil Sheffer tearing into Sara as being unstable and into former Netanyahu aide Natan Eshel for being an alleged serial liar.

The TV program starts with footage from 2009 when Hefetz first started to work for the Netanyahus for more than a year, moves to 2014 when he returned to work for them and shows him rise in the Netanyahu sphere and then his becoming trapped within Case 4000.

Hefetz describes the first moment in February 2018 when the police banged on his door, screaming his name to arrest him.

He said that in that moment he knew his life was changed forever.

The Likud released a response denying most of the allegations and noting portions of Hefetz’s testimony in court that were favorable to them.

Channel 13 noted that it did pay Hefetz for the interviews and recordings, but said this was not unprecedented.