Report: ‘Hidden’ Protocol Clears Netanyahu in Bezeq-Walla Case

YERUSHALAYIM -
The logo of Bezeq is seen outside their headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Reuters/Amir Cohen/File Photo)

A “missing” document regarding the merger of Bezeq and satellite broadcaster YES is a “game-changer” in the main corruption case against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli weekly Davar Rishon said in a weekend report. The document shows the protocol of the meeting in which the merger was approved, and shows that there were no objections by any of the representatives of the various government offices on the merger, include officials of the Communications Ministry.

The document was unveiled after a request by the Movement for Quality Government, and was reproduced in Davar Rishon. It has not been included in the documents examined by police, prosecutors, or State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit, the report said. It is not clear why the document was not released, and Netanyahu’s attorneys said they would demand an investigation to discover if it was deliberately suppressed.

The document upends the main claim of prosecutors in Case 4000, also known as the Bezeq-Walla case. Case 4000 is the influence-peddling probe that alleges that Netanyahu offered his services to Israeli billionaire Shaul Elovich in return for positive coverage on the Walla news site. According to prosecutors, 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 by pushing the merger of YES and Bezeq, which he owned. If no one opposed the merger, there was nothing for Netanyahu to promote, and no reason for him to make a deal for better coverage – which, the prime minister has claimed, he never got anyway.

The document substantiates Netanyahu’s claims that the decision to authorize the merger, which he signed off on, was based on the determination of professionals who were in charge of making the decision based on authorized and specific criteria.

The document, which was the summation of a meeting in June 2015, includes references to discussions that led up to the approval, going back to 2004, when the idea was first broached. That portion of the document renders incorrect a recent report by Kan News, that the committee that approved the merger was under pressure by Netanyahu to make a hurried decision in order to provide the favors Netanyahu was seeking payback for. Kan News claimed that several individuals who were at the meeting testified to that effect when questioned by prosecutors, but if that is the case, those individuals could find themselves subject to investigations for false testimony, Yisrael Hayom said.