State Witness Says Netanyahu's Wife, Son Asked to Erase Texts in Corruption Case

Nir Hefetz says 'stressed' family asked him to make sure wife of Bezeq CEO deleted all correspondence

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Haaretz
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Nir Hefetz at the Tel Aviv District Courthouse for the Case 4000, February 18, 2018.
Nir Hefetz at the Tel Aviv District Courthouse for the Case 4000, February 18, 2018. Credit: Moti Milrod
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Haaretz

Nir Hefetz, the state’s witness in the Bezeq telecom giant case, told investigators that the prime minister’s wife and son asked him to ensure that the wife of Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch delete all correspondence between them, Channel 13 reported Wednesday night.

At the heart of the affair, which was uncovered by Haaretz, is a suspected tit-for-tat relationship between Elovitch and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who in his role as communications minister is accused of giving Elovitch benefits equivalent to hundreds of millions of shekels in exchange for positive coverage of the Netanyahu family on the Walla news website, which Bezeq owns.

Haaretz Weekly Episode 38Credit: Haaretz

“In mid-2017, Sara and Yair [Netanyahu] summoned me urgently to Balfour [the prime minister’s residence], under great pressure,” Hefetz told his investigators, according to the report. “Yair was really stressed, really on the verge of trembling. They asked me to go urgently to Iris Elovitch and to … stand next to her and make sure she deleted all the correspondence between them.”

>> Read the original Haaretz investigation: The Israeli news site in Netanyahu's pocketSeven myths Netanyahu is peddling to the public in the Bezeq corruption case | Analysis

In February, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit indicted Netanyahu for fraud and breach of trust in the case, pending a hearing. Shaul and Iris Elovitch are also expected to stand trial pending a hearing, for giving a bribe, money laundering and obstruction of an investigation.

Sara Netanyahu was suspected of taking a bribe and obstructing the investigation in this case, but Mendelblit decided to close the case against her in February. The decision was made after in the early part of the investigation, Mendelblit reportedly voiced objections and hesitated greatly before authorizing the police to question her under caution, meaning as someone who is suspected of committing a crime.

Shaul Elovitch and Iris Elovitch in court, August 2018Credit: Moti Milrod

Mendelblit noted in the indictment that State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan thought that Sara Netanyahu should be indicted for bribery “because there is a great deal of evidence that shows that the prime minister’s wife was very involved in the demand for coverage from Walla, whether directly or through intermediaries.”

The police closed the case against Yair Netanyahu, who was suspected of similar offenses, without recommending an indictment.

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