New excerpts from the secret negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yeditoh Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes were released by Channel 2 on Monday, in which the two got down to the business of discussing exactly to what extent Yedioth Aharonoth's rival daily Israel Hayom must be cut down as part of a deal to provide better coverage for Netanyahu.
According to Channel 2, Netanyahu and Mozes discussed how the number of copies of Sheldon Adelson's Israel Hayom can be reduced in order to ease the competition with Mozes' Yedioth Ahronoth.
In previously released excerpts, Netanyahu reportedly made explicit promises to advance legislation that would help Yedioth Ahronoth by muzzling the freebie Israel Hayom, owned by American casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. "What's the bottom line?" Mozes asked Netanyahu. "How can we do it quickly?"
"We can legislate it," Netanyahu replied, adding that a "special committee" could be set up for that purpose.
According to the new transcripts aired by Channel 2 on Monday, Mozes told Netanyahu: "Let's think about the details of the law for a moment. It begins [with] two thirds."
Netanyahu replied: "Sheldon has to be told."
Mozes: "[You] have to say the number [of copies of Israel Hayom]. Not 'two thirds.'"
Netanyahu: "[I] have to explain what the number is. Not to reduce it completely. Not to reduce to three thirds. To reduce to two thirds."
Mozes: "When we spoke about numbers it was 275,000 copies and today it's 325,000 copies. You understand why all the time that passes makes a problem? [We're] returning to a situation where we're putting it off and it's harder to solve. I'm trying to think, on Friday it's 400,000 copies. [I'm] trying to think of a formula of how many pages of ads."
Netanyahu: ""What, you can limit it in page of ads?"
Mozes: "There's a problem? What's the problem? There are government advertisements here. 30, 50, 70 percent of the advertisements the state gives them money. That's not in order. I'm telling you this as a side-comment, but it's impossible [to have] everything together."
Netanyahu: "OK, I noted that, we won't deal with it now."
Mozes: "I'll say the number of copies, and x percent occupancy. 'Occupancy' is a term in journalism. In a freebie, above a certain number of copies, the percentage of ads cannot be high, and then the damage that [Israel Hayom] causes in the price lowering is limited. We're trying to find something together."
Netanyahu: "I think that what sounds more reasonable, I'm thinking aloud, God forbid I'm not "
Mozes: "We're trying together to find something."
Meanwhile, Channel 10 reported Monday that the prime minister's son Yair Netanyahu will arrive Tuesday evening at the offices of the police's Lahav 433 fraud investigations unit to give his version of the gifts affair. The younger Netanyahu is expected to be asked about the financing he received from the Australian billionaire James Packer and Packer's connection with his father.
Earlier on Monday, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit rejected calls to release the recordings of Netanyahu's talks Mozes, saying that such a move may obstruct the ongoing police investigation. Mendelblit added that he intends to consider the release of the tapes, due to their public significance, but that at this time their release would impede the investigation.
Amid the continuing leaks from the recordings, Netanyahu attacked the media earlier on Monday, telling a meeting of the Likud faction that the media was functioning as "both the investigator and the executioner."
Speaking at a Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu disparaged his critics, saying: “To all those reading the excerpts, here is another one for you...This won’t help you. I intend to continue leading the country.”
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