The Supreme Court on Sunday agreed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for a rehearing on its decision to allow publication of the dates of his conversations with multibillionaire Sheldon Adelson, his longtime backer and owner of the Israel Hayom free daily. The new hearing will be held before an expanded panel of seven justices.
Since the information was already published last year, the new hearing will deal with the principle of whether a public figure must reveal information about conversations he has with members of the media, or whether this is private information.
In Netanyahu’s case, some of the justices believed that Netanyahu’s additional post as communications minister tipped the scales toward publishing the information.
Last August the Supreme Court accepted the appeal by Channel 10 News journalist Raviv Drucker against a decision by a district court, and ordered Netanyahu to reveal the dates of his phone calls with Adelson and former Israel Hayom editor-in-chief Amos Regev.
In his appeal, Drucker argued that the information being requested could reveal whether there was a connection between the conversations with Adelson and Regev and various articles that appeared in the paper, and whether Netanyahu was effectively the paper’s chief editor.
As a result, Netanyahu gave Drucker details of the dates of the talks with Adelson and Regev in the years 2012-2015. During the election campaign in 2013, Netanyahu spoke with Regev 15 times in 19 days. According to Drucker, some of the talks took place around midnight, just before the newspaper closed. On Election Day, Netanyahu, Regev and Edelson spoke several times.
In 2014, the day after the Israel Hayom bill – which led to the government’s collapse – passed its first Knesset vote, Netanyahu spoke with Adelson three times close to 1 A.M. When the coalition crisis occurred, Netanyahu spoke with Regev.
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