Former Communications Ministry director-general Shlomo Filber and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-hand man will serve as a state witness in case 4000.
The latest in a series of investigation files against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deals with the reciprocal relationship between the prime minister and the people close to him and the senior executives of Israeli telecommunications conglomerate Bezeq and Portal Walla. Among other things, involving benefits for more favorable media coverage to Netanyahu and his family in exchange for promoting the economic interests of Bezeq and Bezeq related companies.
Shlomo Filber, his senior defense attorney and police officer, Head of the Investigations Division, Major General Gadi Siso, and Eli Asayag, head of the National Unit for Fighting Economic Crime, met Tuesday evening for hours at Lahav 433 offices to summarize the details of the agreement.
Filber gave the police a detailed outline of the materials he could testify about against Netanyahu, and demanded in his negotiations that he would not be sentenced to imprisonment – and apparently, his demand was accepted.
The Israel Securities Authority recently completed its inquiry into Bezeq majority shareholder Shaul Elovitch’s ties with Netanyahu and the suspicion he enjoyed benefits for Bezeq amounting to hundreds of millions of shekels in return for favorable coverage of Netanyahu and his family on the Walla! News website, which is fully owned by Bezeq.
According to a police statement, in light of the evidence provided by the Authority, suspicion arose of additional criminal activity in the case, which provided sufficient grounds for opening another joint investigation leading to the arrest of several suspects, including Filber.
Channel 2 News reported Tuesday evening that Filber was considering inking a state witness deal that would see him incriminate the prime minister.
Frustrated with the latest mounting developments, Netanyahu issued a personal response, criticizing the frequency with which investigations are being launched against him.
“What has happened in the last two days is simply complete madness, a scandal. They are presenting two false and fabricated claims as part of a witch hunt against me and my family,” Netanyahu said in a video posted on Facebook.
“All decisions in Bezeq are taken by professional committees, by professional officials, under the attached legal supervision. This isn’t the Wild West. There are no personal decisions. All the decisions are transparent and scritinized. That’s why the allegation that I acted for Bezeq’s benefit at the expense of practical considerations is fundamentally baseles.”
Case 4000, he said, “is no less fabricated and no less nefarious than the claim about the District Court president judge.
“I never consulted Nir Hefetz on this matter, he never proposed anything to me on this issue, and you know what? I don’t believe that he suggested this possibility with anyone,” Netanyahu said in the statement.
“You can’t ignore this orchestrated campaign. When the air was taken out of Case 1000 and Case 2000 when it became clear that there was no air at all in Case 3000, they created new cases,” the prime minister vented.
“They are creating cases every two hours. They bring in associates, investigate them, every associate is investigated, there is an immediate torrent of fictitious leaks. And we know what the goal is: to form a public cloud over the prime minister. It is simply unbelievable,” he added, before finally appealing directly to the the broader public.
“Citizens of Israel, it is important for me that you know that this is the truth. I want you to know that I trust you and the legal system and you can also trust me,” he said. “I am continuing and will continue to lead the State of Israel with responsibility, with discretion and with dedication.”
Chief justice confirms attempted bribery in Case 1270
The second probe Netanyahu was referring to was the latest scandal—Case 1270—centering on suspicions that his former media adviser, Nir Hefetz, and Eli Kamir, former Bezeq strategic advisor, offered a bribe in the form of a promotion to a former District Court president judge Hila Gerstel to drop the case against his wife, Sara Netanyahu.
By Tova Tzimuki and Eli Senyor
Supreme Court Chief Justice Esther Hayut confirmed for police Tuesday that she had been told by the former District Court president judge Hila Gerstel that the latter had been approached by a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bribe her into tossing out an investigation against his wife, Sara Netanyahu.
Although she did not report to the authorities, Gerstel reportedly shared what had happened with Hayut, who served as a regular judge at the time.
In Hayut’s testimony in the latest corruption probe—Case 1270—involving alleged attempts on Netanyahu’s behalf to dangle a promotion over Gerstel’s head in exchange for her cooperation, she alleged that Gerstel had been indirectly approached on the matter.
“The chief justice confirmed that her friend Hila Gerstel, who was a candidate in 2015 for the position of state attorney, told her retrospectively and after her candidacy was no longer relevant, that someone close to the
prime minister spoke to her friend during the time of her candidacy, and asked her to clarify her position regarding the investigation into the prime minister’s wife,” a statement read on Hayut’s behalf.
“Gerstel expressed shock to the president about the incident, but she added that she could not elaborate beyond that and that she could not tell her who the people were, the statement continued.
“Due to the limited details and the vague story that Gerstel chose to tell her, the chief justice did not possess in her hands any kind of base with which to take further steps.”
Earlier, Kamir said “I only looked into the possibility of her promotion” but he denied that there was any correlation between that and the closure of the investigation about Sara Netanyahu in what became known as the Prime Minister’s Residence Affair.