Netanyahu Asks Supreme Court for Rehearing Over Divulging Phone Records With Adelson

Earlier this month Israel's top court ruled Netanyahu must divulge information on his talks with Adelson and the editors of the Israel Hayom daily

Sheldon Adelson and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Ariel University in the West Bank on June 28, 2017.
Sheldon Adelson and Prime Minister Netanyahu at Ariel University in the West Bank on June 28, 2017.Credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Israeli Supreme Court for a rehearing with a larger panel of judges over its decision that he must release the call logs of his conversations with the former editor of Israel Hayom, Amos Regev, and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who funds the paper.

Netanyahu personally appealed to the court through his lawyer, Yaakov Weinroot, after the State Attorney's Office refused to issue the request on his behalf. The prime minister maintains that being forced to release the phone records of the conversations is a violation of his right to privacy.

In his request, Netanyahu clarified that he is not asking that the court revoke its ruling from two weeks ago, since he has "nothing to hide." However, "in light of the elementary importance of the prime minister's right to privacy and in light of the flood of requests since the decision, the prime minister is requesting that the court reconvenes with an extended panel in order to reconsider this sensitive decision."

The prime minister's statement added that "During the short time period since the annoucement of the decision, we have seen an overwhelming surge of requests for information on the personal phone conversations and private meetings of government workers and senior public servants, and this is just the beginning."

"It makes no sense that ministers, members of Knesset, judges and other public servants be subjected to releasing their private conversations to journalists," said Netanyahu's statement. He was referring the Movement for Governance and Democracy's requests for the daily schedules of Supreme Court justices and other top Justice Ministry officials as well as dates of their phone conversations and meetings with journalists. The organization submitted their requests the day after the court decision.

The petition continues, "In addition to the negative impact on the prime minister's work schedule, as there is clear intent to hurt his agenda, the decision opens the door too widely to demanding private information, which no one anticipated."

Tuesday was the final day to request a rehearing on the Supreme Court's decision, which was made on August 7. The Attorney General's Office considered Netanyahu's request for further discussion, but refused to submit it.

The information on his discussions with Regev and Adelson has not yet been released. The attorney general noted that his office is compiling the requested information. Netanyahu did not request an extension as part of his petition.

The court accepted the appeal submitted by investigative reporter Raviv Drucker, overturning last year's district court ruling regarding Druker's freedom of information request. "It is in the public's interest to expose this important information," wrote Justice Menachem Mazuz in the decision.

Drucker originally submitted a freedom of information request regarding the call logs in February of 2015, which was rejected in September of that year. In appealing the decision, Drucker's told the court that "the relationship between the prime minister, Adelson and Regev is not a matter of gossip, it's a matter of understanding the relationship between the government, the newspaper, and its funder."

Drucker further insisted that call log could reveal if a correlation exists between the dates of their communications and a variety of items published in the newspaper, and on whether or not the prime minister was the de facto chief editor of Israel Hayom.

The so-called "Case 2000" involves suspicions that Netanyahu promised to rein in the Israel Hayom, which is heavily pro-Netanyahu, in exchange for getting more favorable coverage in Noni Mozes's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

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