Netanyahu Secretly Met With Murdoch Media Empire Execs in Fall of 2016

Previous reports said the prime minister attempted to negotiate the sale of Yedioth Ahronoth to the Murdochs in 2015, but the revelation of a new secret meeting suggests such activity continued much later than previously known.

Uri Blau
Uri Blau
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; News Corps' Lachlan Murdoch.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; News Corps' Lachlan Murdoch.Credit: Ronen Zvulun, AP; Bloomberg
Uri Blau
Uri Blau

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly met with the son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch three months ago, in a revelation that suggests his alleged actions in the Case 2000 scandal continued until quite recently. 

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According to details obtained by Haaretz, during Sukkot, on the evening of Saturday, October 22, Executive Co-Chairman of News Corp Lachlan Murdoch and the group's Chief Executive, Robert Thomson, landed in Israel on a private jet. 

The two arrived in Israel for one night and, as far as is known, for just one meeting - with Prime Minister and Communications Minister Netanyahu. The prime minister first met with Murdoch for about an hour before Thomson joined. The contents of the meeting were kept secret.

The meeting, as first reported here, ties into investigations against Netanyahu regarding his conversations with Arnon Mozes, publisher of Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth. Included in the investigation are reports that the prime minister tried to negotiate between Mozes and potential buyers for the newspaper. 

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According to a report in TheMarker, the issue was raised in a meeting between Netanyahu and Murdoch in June 2015. The meeting in October with Murdoch and Thomson is cause to believe that the prime minister's involvement in this matter continued much longer than previously reported.

According to media reports, Hollywood producer and Israeli billionaire Arnon Milchan, who is suspected of giving the Netanyahu family gifts worth hundreds of thousands of shekels, connected the prime minister with his business partner, Australian billionaire James Packer, to introduce him as a possible partner to purchase Yedioth Ahronoth. 

Milchan is also a strategic partner of Murdoch and his production company, New Regency, has an exclusive distribution agreement with Fox Studios, where Murdoch is also an executive co-chairman. The deal is said to be worth some $15 billion. According to reports, Netanyahu also moderated negotiations between Yedioth Ahronoth and German media mogul Axel Springer, as well as Larry Ellison, owner of the company Oracle.

The prime minister refused to answer Haaretz's request for comment regarding the contents of his meeting with Murdoch, and refused to say if it dealt with Yedioth Ahronoth while. He also would not explain why the meeting was kept secret. News Corp and Milchan also ignored attempts to contact them for comment.

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