Israel Police say they need about two weeks to finishing taking testimony from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former media advisor, who turned state’s evidence in a twist of events that may bode poorly for the embattled premier.
Police are expected to question Netanyahu and his wife Sara again only after Nir Hefetz finishes supplying information.
Unlike other people who have turned witnesses for the state in cases connected to Netanyahu, Hefetz was released from arrest after giving his initial testimony to the police.
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Netanyahu himself, speaking to journalists at the United Nations headquarters in New York on Thursday, said he and his wife “are being attacked all the time, every minute and every hour,” and urged them to “listen to Israeli citizens who support us and who want justice."
"It is absurd to try to silence us, and I will tell the truth,” he said, adding that even the prime minister has the right to have his say.
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The truth, Netanyahu continued, may be uncomfortable to many people – that there is public sympathy for him, his wife and his family. He said he has never before seen such sympathy.
Police have already recommended charging Netanyahu with bribery in two cases – one involving favors to a businessman who gave him expensive gifts and another involving attempts to secure favorable coverage from a daily paper in exchange for measures to undermine its main rival. They are also investigating him as a suspect in a third case, involving regulatory favors for the Bezeq telecommunications company in exchange for favorable coverage by its website, Walla.
As Haaretz has previously reported, Hefetz is not giving information about new cases, but only additional information about existing ones. Nevertheless, under the terms of his state’s evidence agreement, if new allegations do arise, he is obligated to tell police what he knows about them.
Contrary to many reports, Hefetz’s information relates primarily to the Bezeq-Walla case, where he was allegedly involved in both the Netanyahu family’s requests for favorable coverage from Walla and in the benefits Netanyahu allegedly gave Bezeq in return. He will, however, also provide information about the other two cases.
Police are expected to stage a confrontation soon between Hefetz and the other suspects in the Bezeq case, including the owner of the telecom giant, Shaul Elovitch, who allegedly gave the bribe.
Former Communications Ministry Director General Shlomo Filber, another Netanyahu confidant who also turned state’s evidence in the Bezeq case, has finished giving his information and has been released from arrest. Police have already staged confrontations between him and the other suspects.
Most of the suspects in the Bezeq case, with the exception of Elovitch, have been released from house arrest, and some are even back at work at Bezeq.
When police first investigated Elovitch, they proposed that he turn state’s evidence against Netanyahu, but the businessman stuck to his story that there was no agreement between him and the prime minister.