Netanyahu Questioned for First Time About Submarine Corruption Scandal

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Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting, June 10 2018
Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting, June 10 2018Credit: Yonatan Sindel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave testimony to police about a controversial submarine deal for the first time on Tuesday.  

"The prime minister gave testimony in Case 3000, the submarines case, for the first time. He is not a suspect," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. 

The so-called "submarine affair" revolves around alleged corruption surrounding a $2 billion deal to purchase submarines and other naval vessels from German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp. A number of close associates of Netanyahu have been implicated. 

Netanyahu was questioned at his residence on Tuesday as part of the investigation into another controversy, the so-called Case 4000.

Case 4000 involves suspicions that Netanyahu, in his role as communications minister from 2014 to 2017 (while he was also prime minister), intervened with regulators to help the Bezeq group, which is controlled by Shaul Elovitch. In exchange, Elovitch, a longtime friend of Netanyahu’s, allegedly ordered Bezeq’s Walla news site to provide favorable coverage of the prime minister and his wife Sara. 

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Investigators were expected to question Netanyahu over the testimony of Nir Hefetz, a former confidant turned state's evidence, who gave police text messages and incriminating recordings allegedly indicating a quid pro quo relationship.  

Police were also expected to ask Netanyahu about text messages sent by Sara Netanyahu to Iris Elovitch, wife of Shaul Elovitch, in which she asked for coverage to be altered. 

Last month, Haaretz revealed that Elovitch said he understood Netanyahu "was  willing to commit suicide for me.”

Elovitch made this comment in summer 2015, shortly after Netanyahu, who was also communications minister at the time, gladdened his heart by approving a merger between the telecommunications corporation and the satellite television company Yes. Elovitch also boasted that favorable coverage of Netanyahu on Bezeq’s internet news site, Walla, had helped the prime minister win that year’s election, adding that he “owes” Netanyahu because the latter worked on his behalf “against everyone.”

On Thursday, police plan to question two suspects in Case 2000 – Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Mozes and MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Union). The case involves alleged discussions between Netanyahu and Mozes over future government policies benefitting Yedioth in exchange for favorable coverage of the prime minister.

Cabel was the sponsor of the so-called "Israel Hayom bill," which would have made it illegal to widely distribute a full-size newspaper free of charge. Owned by Sheldon Adelson and considerd pro-Netanyahu, Israel Hayom is the chief competitor of Yedioth.

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