In a move that generated more suspicion about improper contacts between Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Yisrael Hayom daily, the paper removed archives of past editions from its website on Tuesday, which critics charged was done to deprive investigators of evidence of wrongdoing, according to The Times of Israel.
The paper’s online archive was being utilized by journalists to track phone calls between Netanyahu and former editor Amos Regev, as well as owner Sheldon Adelson. They were able to match up the dates of phone calls with the next day’s headlines, favoring Netanyahu, which pointed to collusion between him and the paper. Dates of the calls came from official logs released under the Freedom of Information law a few days ago.
A spokesperson for Yisrael Hayom explained that the archive was being transferred to a new digital system and its removal “had nothing to do” with the publication of the prime minister’s phone log.
Only editions of the paper published in 2017 are now available on Yisrael Hayom’s website. The period under investigation covers preceding years, 2012-2015.
Netanyahu has stated in an affidavit that he “does not have, and has never had, any ties of control or any other organizational ties, in any form, with Yisrael Hayom, or with newspaper staff or journalists writing for it, that would influence the paper’s editorial considerations or its contents.”
Upon releasing the phone log, Netanyahu pointed out that he and other public officials routinely communicate with publishers, editors and reporters, that it is part of the normal functioning of government and politics, and the frequency of the calls indicate nothing improper.