Ex-tycoon, News Publisher Indicted for Bribery in Netanyahu Cases

AG decides to indict publisher of Israeli daily and former head of Israel's biggest telecommunications company, all accused of altering media coverage to benefit Netanyahu

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
Yedioth Ahronot publisher Arnon Mozes leaving a police investigation in Lod, 2017.
Yedioth Ahronot publisher Arnon Mozes leaving a police investigation in Lod, 2017.Credit: Dudu Bachar
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

Shortly after announcing that he has charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with fraud, bribery and breach of trust in three criminal cases he is embroiled in, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit decided Thursday to indict three key individuals involved the cases against the premier.

Arnon (Noni) Mozes, the publisher of Israel's largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, is indicted for bribery in Case 2000, and Shaul and Iris Elovich are indicted for bribery, obstruction of justice and obstruction of the investigation.

>> Can Netanyahu remain PM after charges and get immunity?All of Netanyahu corruption cases, explained

In February, the attorney general announced that he was closing the cases against several other suspects in the Netanyahu cases; among them were the premier's wife Sara, Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Knesset member Eytan Cabel (Labor-Gesher).

Noni Mozes: Case 2000

The publisher of Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronot and the main suspect in case 2000 is Arnon Mozes. He will be indicted for bribery and for promising bribery to the prime minister. "The accused Mozes offered and promised the defendant Netanyahu a present in the form of visibly altering how he was covered on Yedioth Ahronot and on Ynet," said the indictment, referring to the daily's website, "and [promised to] negatively change how his political opponents were covered, in a manner that would ensure that he be reelected," the indictment reads.

"This was carried out while he was using his power as prime minister to advance legislation that had significant financial repercussions for Mozes," the indictment added.

At the center of Case 2000 is a series of meetings between Netanyahu and Mozes, in which they discussed a bribery deal. According to Netanyahu's indictment, the deal called for the prime minister to try to limit the circulation of rival newspaper Israel Hayom, and in return Mozes gave Netanyahu favorable coverage.

In this case, Netanyahu was charged Thursday with fraud and breach of trust.

Shaul and Iris Elovich: Case 4000

The attorney general decided to indict the Elovitch couple. Shaul Elovitch will be indicted for bribery, obstruction of justice, obstruction of an investigation, money laundering and securities violations.

Iris and Shaul Elovich at the Tel Aviv District Court in 2018.Credit: Moti Milrod

Case 4000 is considered the most serious of the Netanyahu cases, and revolves around a bribery deal between Netanyahu and Elovich, who controlled the Bezeq telecommunications company and the Walla News site. According to the indictment, Netanyahu and Elovich engaged in a quid-pro-pro deal in which Netanyahu – as communication minister – led regulatory steps directly tied to Elovich's businesses and interests that yielded the tycoon some $500 million.

In return, according to the indictment, Netanyahu and his wife Sara made consistent requests to alter the coverage on the Walla News website in order to serve the Netanyahus' interests and target their opponents. Elovich allegedly pressed the editors of the website to comply with the Netanyahus' demands. Substantial circumstantial evidence convinced Mendelblit that both Elovich and Netanyahu were aware of the quid-pro-quo, though there is no evidence of an explicit coordination of the deal.

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