Police Arrest Elovich, Others in Bezeq Case; PM Set to Be Questioned

YERUSHALAYIM -
A Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp. building. (Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

Adding to the legal troubles facing Binyamin Netanyahu, weekend reports said that he was likely to be questioned by police in Case 4000, in which the prime minister has been accused of advancing the interests of Shaul Elovich, the majority shareholder in Bezeq and the Walla news site. According to Hadashot News, “this is a case which is likely to yield many surprises, and it is the strongest of any of the cases the prime minister is involved in.” On Sunday, police detained Elovich and several others involved in the case for questioning.

As of this weekend, police have begun investigating the case, and especially the connections between Netanyahu and Elovich. According to Hadashot News, the investigation will focus on benefits Elovich allegedly received in his efforts to take control of Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage of Netanyahu on the Walla news site. Netanyahu and Elovich met several times during the period that Netanyahu was communications minister, the report said.

The case has been under investigation by the Israeli Securities Administration since June, and the results – which indicate that there is a case for charges to be leveled against Elovich and others – were transferred to the State Prosecutor’s Office. Along with Elovich, the ISA had investigated officials in the YES satellite service, and Director General of the Communications Ministry Shlomo Filber. Among other things, Filber is accused of transferring top secret policy documents to officials in YES, which they would lobby for or against based on the company’s interests. Police will now investigate Netanyahu’s connection to the case, if any. In a statement, Netanyahu’s office said that “this is another set of false charges against the prime minister, and will be proven as such during the investigation.”

Police last week recommended that prosecutors bring charges against Netanyahu in two other cases: Case 1000, in which Netanyahu was accused of accepting extravagant gifts from millionaire Arnon Milchin, mostly cigars and champagne, and Case 2000, in which the prime minister allegedly leaned on the publishers of Yisrael Hayom to limit distribution of their free newspaper in order to benefit from better coverage in rival newspaper Yediot Acharonot. Police also recommended that Milchin and Arnon Mozes, the owner of Yediot Acharonot, be indicted for their roles in the cases. There is enough evidence against all three to pursue charges, police said in recommendations to prosecutors.