Storm Brews Over Netanyahu's Alleged Involvement in Bezeq Decision

Knesset panel to discuss communications Ministry's approval for Bezeq to end structural separation of its business units.

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Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corp. headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Bezeq.Credit: Bloomberg

The Knesset Economic Committee will discuss on Monday the Communications Ministry’s tentative approval for Bezeq to end structural separation of its business units after a report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had violated a commitment not to be involved in the decision.

Channel 10 news reported that Shlomo Filber, who Netanyahu appointed as the ministry’s director general, told a closed forum several months ago that the prime minister was assuming a role in policy toward Bezeq.

Although Netanyahu also serves as communications minister, he recused himself from Bezeq-related issues because of his personal times with Shaul Elovitch, Bezeq’s controlling shareholder.

“All those who ask all the time what Netanyahu has done in the Communications Ministry? All this only a prime minister can do,” Filber reportedly said, referring to ministry policymaking vis a vis Bezeq. “No communications minister in Israel can avoid this.”

The decision on structural separation, which could save Israel’s biggest telecommunications company hundreds of millions through tax-loss credit, had already set off a storm when it was first revealed over the weekend. Filber’s remarks now raise the stakes.

“In addition to suspicions about who benefitted from the submarines affairs, we need to open an investigation immediately into the Netanyahu’s involvement in a gift worth a billion shekels that’s been given to Bezeq and its controlling shareholder,” said Zionist Union lawmaker Miki Rosenthal.