Adelson Told Police: Netanyahu Sought to Weaken Israel Hayom to Benefit Competing Daily

Netanyahu reportedly pushed for Adelson-owned daily to cut weekend supplements, a move that would benefit its biggest competitor, with whom Netanyahu was allegedly negotiating favorable coverage

Sheldon Adelson at the National Israeli-American Conference in Washington October 19, 2015
GARY CAMERON/REUTERS

American Jewish billionaire and Israel Hayom publisher Sheldon Adelson told Israel Police investigators that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked him to consider canceling the possibility of publishing weekend supplements, Channel 2 reported on Saturday. This information was reportedly shared with investigators during Adelson's second questioning, about a month ago, and referred to a discussion that took place when the paper had no weekend supplements.    

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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On Friday, Channel 2 reported that the Israel Police are expected to recommend the indictment of Netanyahu in Case 2000.

Netanyahu's former aide, now state's witness, Ari Harow, is thought to have had a key role in the Netanyahu-Mozes case. A number of recordings between the two were made on Harow's iPhone, with Harow himself participating in a portion of them. Netanyahu is thought to have indirectly asked Harow to examine how to go about a deal with the publisher.

The Israel Police confirmed on Thursday that the prime minister is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu's bureau rejected the allegations on Thursday, calling them "unfounded claims."

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Harow, Netanyahu's former chief of staff, reached an agreement with the prosecution to turn state's witness in two of the corruption cases against Netanyahu, case's 1000 and 2000.

Under the deal, Harow will be convicted of fraud and breach of trust in a separate case, but will avoid jail time. Instead, he will do community service and pay a 700,000-shekel ($193,000) fine.

Netanyahu offered his first response to the claims against him in a Facebook post on Friday. Speaking in a video, he said: "There's no such thing as a week without a headline. I want to tell the citizens of Israel: I do not address background noises and I will continue to serve you."