There’s a new twist in Case 4000, the influence-peddling probe that alleges that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered his good services to Israeli billionaire Shaul Elovich in return for positive coverage on the Walla news site. According to a report on Channel Ten, police are now investigating Netanyahu’s role in Elovich’s attempt to sell Walla – to none other than Larry Ellison, founder of tech giant Oracle, and one of the world’s richest men.
According to the report, Elovich offered Netanyahu a quid pro quo deal of “better coverage” for the prime minister on the Walla site if the prime minister would help him get out of the financial bind he found himself in. Netanyahu, police believe, broached the subject of Ellison’s buying of the site with the American billionaire. The sale did not go through, and it is not even clear if there were any substantial talks between Elovich and Ellison, or their representatives.
In response, Elovich’s attorneys said that the allegations were “more ridiculous charges that will amount to nothing. It is sad to see how what was supposed to be a serious investigation has turned into a circus sideshow such that no third-world country, where there is no law, would acknowledge.” A source in the Prime Minister’s Office said that “even if it were true, Netanyahu has for 20 years been trying to bring investors to diversify the media in Israel and to break the monopoly of leftist opinion that controls it. This is exactly what the public has voted him in to do, time after time.”
In a recent interview, Amit Hadad, one of the attorneys working with Netanyahu, said that Case 4000 had already “collapsed. The alleged deal claimed that Elovich offered Netanyahu a deal, saying, ‘you cut down on regulations for me and I will give you good coverage,’ never happened,” Hadad said on Reshet Bet. “It turns out that there was no relaxation of regulations and no good coverage. We believe that the case will be closed. There is nothing to investigate here.”
Hadad said that an investigation of the facts regarding the most critical period for Netanyahu – when he really could have used some good coverage – was during the week before the 2015 elections, when Netanyahu was behind in the polls. “At that time, Netanyahu got terrible coverage on Walla,” said Hadad. “At the same time the head of the Shin Bet said in the media that Netanyahu had failed, and was evading responsibility, and the head of the Mossad said in a top headline that Netanyahu was endangering Israeli security. There was almost no positive coverage to speak of.” Elovich and Netanyahu never met after the election, either, he added.