Reporter at pro-Netanyahu Daily Israel Hayom Resigns to Work for PM's Rival

Diplomatic correspondent Shlomo Cesana, who spoke out against Netanyahu's attacks on the media, will be Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid's spokesman

Two men reading Israeli dailies Yedioth Ahronoth, left, and Israel Hayom in Jerusalem, February 2015.
THOMAS COEX / AFP

The diplomatic correspondent for a newspaper linked to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is leaving his job to become a media consultant and personal spokesman of Netanyahu's political rival, Yair Lapid, the head of the centrist Yesh Atid party.

Shlomo Cesana has worked for the Israel Hayom daily for 11 years and was among the signatories of a petition by diplomatic correspondents calling on Netanyahu to cease his attacks on the media. His signature led to a sharp rebuke by Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister's wife.

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Cesana later discovered that he was forbidden from joining the press delegation on several of the prime minister's flights. The newspaper began publishing fewer of his articles, especially after Boaz Bismuth became editor-in-chief last year. 

Before working at Israel Hayom, Cesana spent a decade at the Maariv newspaper. He also researches Jerusalem and has published three books about the city.

Israel Hayom is owned by Sheldon Adelson, the Jewish American billionaire with a history of warm relations with Netanyahu. The newspaper is at the center of a police probe revolving around the suspicion that Netanyahu offered the publisher of Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot that he would limit the circulation of Israel Hayom, its biggest rival, in return for better coverage. 

Last year, Netanyahu was forced by a court ruling to disclose the record of his phone calls with Adelson and Israel Hayom's editor-in-chief at the time, Amos Regev, which showed that the prime minister spoke with Regev 15 times within 19 days during the run-up to the 2013 general election.