Forced to Divulge Phone Records, Netanyahu Says He Spoke to Adelson 40 Times a Year

Court ruled that Netanyahu must disclose details of his contact with Adelson, owner of Israel Hayom newspaper, and former editor Amos Regev last month. Netanyahu gave only partial information Thursday on his Facebook page

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Sheldon Adelson, left, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, right, with their wives;
Sheldon Adelson, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with their wives at a cornerstone-laying ceremony at Ariel University;Credit: Idan Mizrahi
Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disclosed on Thursday that he spoke with Sheldon Adelson, the American casino magnate and owner of pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom daily, about 160 times between 2012 and 2015.

"Adelson has been a close friend of mine for about 30 years, and I am happy to speak with him from time to time," the prime minister wrote in his post. "Between 2012 and 2015, I spoke with him an average of 0.75 times a week."

With regard to his contacts with Israel Hayom's editor at the time Amos Regev, Netanyahu added: "I spoke with him 1.5 times a week on average."

At the beginning of August, the Supreme Court ruled that the prime minister would be required to disclose when he had had contacts with the two. It also required the Prime Minister's Office, as well as Adelson and Regev, to pay Channel 10 reporter and sometimes Haaretz columnist Raviv Drucker's legal fees after he filed a suit seeking disclosure of the contact details. Each is to pay Drucker 10,000 shekels ($2,800) in fees.

The Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling denying Drucker's request for the information pursuant to the freedom of information law. In his freedom of information request, Drucker claimed that the information will make it possible to determine a possible connnection between the prime minister’s conversations with Adelson and Regev and various coverage in Israel Hayom, and whether the prime minister essentially determined the newspaper’s content during the period in question.

"It is in the public's interest to expose this important information," wrote Justice Menachem Mazuz in the Supreme Court's decision, in response to Adelson's and Regev's position that releasing call logs would violate their privacy. "The public's interest, in this situation, supersedes Adelson's, Regev's and the prime minister's right to privacy," the justice ruled.

In his Facebook post, the prime minister made note that he has asked for a rehearing by the Supreme Court on the decision. "I hope that this time, it will rule otherwise. In any event, a situation should not be accepted in which there is one standard for me and another standard for everyone else. If there is to be disclosure, everything [should be] disclosed." That means that other politicians should be required to divulge their contacts with media representatives, he said.

The prime minister has faced scrutiny over his relationship with Adelson and Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Israel Hayom's major newspaper rival, Yedioth Ahronoth. In the criminal investigation known as Case 2000, police acquired tapes of Netanyahu negotiating with Mozes in a purported effort to skew the daily's coverage in favor of the prime minister. In exchange, Netanyahu allegedly considered helping Yedioth by spearheading legislation that would hamstring Adelson's newspaper. Netanyahu claims that he never meant to strike any real deal with Mozes.

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