MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Union) asked Israel’s state comptroller on Monday to reexamine whether Israel Hayom serves as an illicit propaganda machine for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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The appeal comes in the wake of investigations into Netanyahu and reports that the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth, Arnon Mozes, discussed in tape-recorded conversations a deal by which the newspaper would “pamper” Netanyahu with positive coverage in exchange for the prime minister moving to weaken Yedioth’s main rival, Israel Hayom.
Hasson wrote in his letter to State Comptroller Joseph Shapira: “In parallel to the criminal investigation, this case requires a reexamination of the violating of election laws by the prime minister and the Likud party. After the last elections, the state comptroller’s report concluded that there is insufficient evidence of an illicit tie between Netanyahu and Israel Hayom, and in light of the latest revelations, it would be proper to examine things a second time.”
Hasson cast doubt on the trustworthiness of the affidavit that Tourism Minister Yariv Levin submitted to the Central Elections Committee in a hearing on the request to disqualify Israel Hayom on the eve of the elections.
“You don’t need to have a law education to reach the conclusion that the affidavit is in fact a false one. You don’t need to stretch the imagination to theorize that if the prime minister sees himself as de facto in charge of Israel Hayom, that Israel Hayom also sees the prime minster as its de facto controlling owner,” Hasson wrote.
“The possibility that serious violations of the elections law were consistently committed under the cover of the broad and intimate relations between the prime minister and the newspaper’s controlling owner, including receiving illicit contributions in the form of favors, seems today more trivial than ever. Therefore, it is appropriate to conduct a serious, comprehensive examination that clarifies to the fullest these difficult questions.”
After Haaretz reported on Sunday that the prime minister was recorded discussed trading mutual favors with a well-known businessman, Channel 2 revealed that the businessman is Mozes. The police possess these recordings, which constitute investigative material in the main case about which Netanyahu is being investigated.
Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu and Mozes met in the center of the country through two middlemen. According to the report, the prime minister sought the meeting to ask Mozes to withhold information about his son, Yair Netanyahu.