Report: Tape of Netanyahu and Media Mogul Recorded by PM's Chief of Staff

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, December 21, 2016.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, December 21, 2016.Credit: Emil Salman

A taped conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the publisher of the Yedioth Aharonoth daily, Arnon Mozes, was recorded by the prime minister's chief of staff at the time, Channel 2 reported on Sunday. The tape, which was reportedly made at Netanyahu's request, was obtained by police as part of a corruption case police investigating involving Netanyahu.

Earlier Sunday, Haaretz reported about the existence of the tape, which is connected to the larger and more significant of two cases of suspected wrongdoing by Netanyahu. This case relates to allegations that Netanyahu negotiated with a businessman over the possible exchange of favors between the two. Later Sunday, Channel 2 reported that the businessman is Mozes.

In July, Netanyahu's former bureau chief Ari Harow, was interrogated by the police. Among the matters, he was questioned about matters relating to the prime minister.

Channel 2 reported that the tape was obtained by the police many months ago and related to a conversation between Netanyahu and Mozes about Israel Hayom, the free Israeli daily owned by American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has close ties to the prime minister. It is not clear, the report said, if Netanyahu was offering to attempt to shut down the free daily, which is a major competitor to Yedioth Aharonoth, or to have Israel Hayom transformed into a paper that charges a subscription fee. But one way or another, such a proposal would allow Mozes to reap substantial financial benefits from the change.

In exchange, Mozes allegedly offered to change his daily's editorial line to make it more sympathetic to Netanyahu. The Walla news website reported that Mozes is heard on the tape seeking to get Netanyahu to push for passage of a law relating to Adelson's paper that would change its business model. "I'll pamper you at the newspaper, if you help me with an Israel Hayom law."  According to Walla, the prime minister responded: "It will be okay."

Speaking to Channel 2, a law enforcement source characterized the conversation as follows: "This was a disgusting give-and-take conversation. On one hand, [Arnon] Mozes is promising positive coverage and on the other hand, the prime minister is saying 'I'll look after you.'"

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