Elovitch to Yeshua: I have problems all day with the PM

The former Walla CEO recorded calls from various defendants and players in the case and eventually produced the recordings to police, along with a massive number of texts.

Former CEO of Walla! Ilan Yeshua arrives for his testimony at in the case against PM Netanyahu who is on trial on criminal allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, at the District Court in Jerusalem, April 7, 202 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Former CEO of Walla! Ilan Yeshua arrives for his testimony at in the case against PM Netanyahu who is on trial on criminal allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, at the District Court in Jerusalem, April 7, 202
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH 90)
Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul Elovitch texted Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua in February 2015 that he was having problems all day with “the big one,” who Yeshua confirmed was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Yeshua was testifying on Monday in the Jerusalem District court on day four of the prime minister’s public corruption trial about text messages with Elovitch relating to alleged Netanyahu concerns over positive coverage given to then-Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog.
According to evidence presented by the prosecution, Elovitch texted Yeshua, “Enough already with Buji Herzog.”
The former Walla CEO responded: “It will be dealt with.”
Next, Elovitch texted as a reply: “All day, I am having trouble with ‘the big one’ with my issue.”
Following this, prosecutor Yehudit Tirosh asked Yeshua if Elovitch’s reference to “my issue” meant Walla, where Yeshua was CEO.
Responding, Yeshua said, “No, he was referring to issues Bezeq had with the prime minister.”
Elovitch’s defense attorney Jacques Chen and Netanyahu defense lawyer Boaz Ben-Tzur broke in with objections.
They said that Yeshua’s testimony was inadmissible because he was adding to the account he gave to police. They also added that Yeshua could not estimate what Elovitch meant.
Chen exclaimed, “We were not born yesterday!” He added that the defense believes the prosecution used its seven days of pretrial preparation with Yeshua to improperly “fix” his less specific testimony to police.
Judges Rivkah Friedman-Feldman and Moshe Bar-Am displayed increasing impatience with the defense’s interruptions and objections to Yeshua’s testimony.
Bar-Am said that the defense must not object so often, adding, “There is no other way to do this!” Judge Oded Shaham has remained relatively quiet throughout the proceedings.
Yeshua is testifying about Case 4000, the Bezeq-Walla Affair, in which Netanyahu and Elovitch are accused of concocting a scheme of media bribery in which Elovitch was to help Netanyahu in exchange for the prime minister’s help in influencing government policy to benefit Bezeq, the country’s largest telecom company.
Later Monday, the prosecution presented evidence that on March 16-17, 2015, Netanyahu’s office demanded that Walla give the prime minister a flattering interview on the eve of elections.
Next, the prosecution presented, and Yeshua testified about, an extensive series of texts which passed between Netanyahu’s messengers, such as Nir Hefetz, and Yeshua about the handling of the recorded interview by Walla reporter Dov Gil-Har.
Yeshua’s texts and his testimony then painted a picture of Hefetz telling Yeshua that it was forbidden for Walla to post the interview because it had been improperly critical.
Further, Yeshua said that he sent a draft version of the recorded interview to Hefetz beforehand.
However, even with amendments by Yeshua and Hefetz, Netanyahu still opposed the interview being posted.
At this point, Haaretz’s publication, The Marker, published that Walla was covering up an interview it had done with Netanyahu.
This led to Walla posting the interview, while claiming that the delay was a pre-conditioned embargo agreed upon between the parties.
Yeshua testified that he was not aware of any other case where they sent a recorded interview to a politician to amend it before publication on the eve of elections.
In addition, Yeshua also testified that Sara Netanyahu thanked Iris Elovitch, Shaul’s wife, about “the great service” which Walla performed for Netanyahu during the approach to the election.
At different times, Elovitch defense lawyer Chen and Netanyahu defense lawyer Ben-Tzur said to Tirosh, “that is the last time you will interrupt me.”
Sometime later, Tirosh told the court that she and the rest of the prosecution felt physically threatened by the defense.
The defense then protested saying the prosecution was itself acting improperly by inventing threats when the exchange had to do with esoteric legal procedure.
Tirosh doubled down, saying that she and her whole team often feel threatened as a result of attacks which they constantly absorb for serving as prosecutors of the prime minister.
In a parallel exchange, Yeshua testified about a multi-sided WhatsApp group text conversation between himself, Shaul Elovitch, and Shaul’s son, Or.
When Shaul praised Yeshua for helping Netanyahu win the election with positive coverage, Yeshua responded that he hoped the prime minister would express that gratitude.
Shaul Elovitch responded “hopefully he will,” referring to regulatory help he wanted from Netanyahu, but Or then added, “We don’t hope, we will demand.”
Next, the prosecution played a recording of Elovitch and Yeshua speaking on July 29, 2015 when Netanyahu sent his aide, Shai Hayak, to get Walla to spin an ultimatum and controversy between Netanyahu and Bayit Yehudi’s Uri Ariel as a fabricated ultimatum and dispute.
The goal appeared to be to protect Netanyahu from competition from his political right flank.