Israeli News Site CEO to Police: Telecom Tycoon Ordered 'Attacks on Right Wing, Except for Netanyahus'

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Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua, 2014.
Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua, 2014. Credit: Eyal Toueg

The CEO of Israeli news website Walla told police that Israeli telecom mogul Shaul Elovitch approved "to write against the right-wing, Likud lawmakers and [Avigdor] Lieberman, only not against Bibi [Netanyahu], Sara and the son [Yair]," according to a report by the Israel Television News Company on Friday.

Case 4000 has linked Elovitch and the website to favorable coverage for Netanyahu in return for regulatory benefits worth hundreds of millions of shekels for Elovitch's other companies – in particular, the giant Bezeq telecom company.

In Friday's report, Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua testified that Elovitch ordered Walla employees to attack Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is also the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi. "Elovitch says he wants to make Walla into a religious Zionist website. That's a lie. There were orders to attack Naftali Bennett. To attack him hard," Yeshua stated. Yeshua also described the Elovitch family as a "crime family."

Yeshua testified that in 2017 Elovitch tried to get the company's board to remove Yeshua as the website's CEO. According to Yeshua, this occured after he decided to hire freelance journalists to work on the site.

Channel 10 News also reported that Sara Netanyahu sent a message to Elovitch's wife, Iris, urging her to fire a Walla editor who published an unflattering article about her.

According to Channel 10 News, Sara wrote, "It can't go on like this. I thought we've talked about this. This has been going on for too long. Why should I be reading things like this on your website? do something about it."

Another confidant of Netanyahu and the former director of the Communications Ministry, Shlomo Filber, who was arrested by the police in an investigation into the ties of Israel’s telecom giant with government officials, reached a deal with the police to turn state's evidence.

Filber gave a detailed testimony against Netanyahu to avoid going to prison. His testimony is likely to establish the nature of the compensation given by the prime minister for the slanted coverage he received on Walla. Shaul and Iris Elovitch's arrest has been extended by five days.

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