Netanyahu trial: Yeshua told staff Bibi 'destroying Zionist enterprise'

Defense uses ex-Walla chief’s own words to undermine him.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes his way into court on Monday. (photo credit: OREN BEN HAKOON/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu makes his way into court on Monday.
(photo credit: OREN BEN HAKOON/POOL)
Walla and Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck back hard on Tuesday in the public corruption trial before the Jerusalem District Court.
The trial has now crossed into a new phase with the cross-examination of former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua.
If the first seven hearings in April were the prosecution’s chance to show that Netanyahu and Elovitch engaged in a media bribery scheme, in the next 10-20 hearings the defense team will have the chance to prove them wrong.
Elovitch lawyer Jacques Chen began cross-examining Yeshua on Tuesday and will continue on Wednesday and into next week.
At one point, Chen succeeded in getting Yeshua to admit that the court should not take literally many of his text messages, which are a key part of the prosecution’s evidence.
For example, Yeshua admitted that what he wrote to one of Netanyahu’s alleged messengers regarding the media, that they “have no soul” or are “like animals,” for attacking Sara Netanyahu and the Netanyahu children, was not what he really believed.
Chen tried to use this to portray Yeshua as a serial liar.
Two of the judges, Rivkah Friedman-Feldman and Moshe Baram, openly questioned Yeshua about this tactic and asked whether people he wrote to understood his true meaning or some other meaning.
Yeshua tried to rally and said they would understand the true meaning because they were in on the media bribery conspiracy, but overall, this was a point the defense was happy to highlight.
In another controversial exchange, Yeshua admitted that during the era he claims he was slanting coverage toward Netanyahu, he had also told Walla staff that the prime minister was “destroying the Zionist enterprise.”
The defense then used this to try to show Yeshua was not a serial Netanyahu helper and that there was no pro-Netanyahu media bribery scheme.
Chen also presented Yeshua with an article in Ayin Hashvuit on July 18, 2013.
The article said reporters had interviewed 30 Walla reporters who complained of improper intervention by Yeshua in their reporting.
Further, the article specifically highlights Yeshua’s  intervention for a variety of “commercial interests” which had no connection to Netanyahu, and maybe no connection to Elovitch’s Bezeq regulatory interests.
Chen asked Yeshua about the article saying, “Yeshua does not deny this, and explains the system’s need to bend itself in favor of the system’s commercial interests.”
Yeshua responded, “There are also commercial interests, and I am not embarrassed to admit what all CEOs in the media refuse to acknowledge. From what I remember, I did not want to deny it because everyone does it.”
Next, Yeshua tried to reconnect his tendency to intervene in reporting to the pressures from Netanyahu and Elovitch,  saying that the reporters in Ayin Hashvuit did not know that his interference was mostly related to the prime minister, but that “we covered this up well” from the reporters.
Later, Chen presented a series of incidents of Yeshua interfering with reporters’ coverage in April 2012, before the Netanyahus entered the picture. Yeshua also appeared to push for a Netanyahu interview or for the prime minister to attend a Walla event.
The presentation led Judge Baram to declare “not everything is slanted coverage,” meaning the judge believed Yeshua also initiated various things with Netanyahu’s circle for the benefit of Walla.
Earlier, Chen also tried to paint Yeshua as a liar and serial recorder of people.
In his direct testimony in April, Yeshua had said he never recorded anyone until the Netanyahu-Elovitch saga.
Chen presented three recordings, which he said Yeshua made and tried to hide from police, which had no connection to Netanyahu and Elovitch.
Yeshua responded that he did not remember these, but had given his cell phone over to the police to take whatever they wanted.
After Chen finished cross-examining Yeshua, Netanyahu’s lawyer Boaz Ben-Tzur will go after Yeshua, with lawyer Michal Rozin, representing Iris Elovitch, Shaul’s wife, taking on the former Walla CEO last.
Cross-examination could potentially take the trial into the summer recess – which might mean that the next prosecution witness will not testify until September.