Netanyahu, businessman discuss quid pro quo in recorded conversations

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The main corruption case involving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for which he has been questioned two times in the last week, involved recorded conversations of Netanyahu offering benefits to a businessman in exchange for his help keeping the prime minister in power.

The businessman on Sunday was revealed by Israel Channel 2 news to be Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Yediot Acharonot newspaper. The accusations of the contact between the two, who are believed to have a terrible rivalry, are backed up by recorded conversations between the two, Haaretz reported Sunday.

Mozes reportedly also has been questioned in the case.

Haaretz reports that the deal being struck by the men is more of a mutually beneficial deal under which Netanyahu would use his influence to convince the Israel Hayom newspaper owned by Netanyahu supporter Sheldon Adelson to either close the pro-Netanyahu newspaper, or at least cancel its weekend edition, to help Yediot, which has been losing subscribers to the free publication.

In exchange, according to reports, Yediot would drop an investigative report on Netanyahu’s son, Yair.

Netanyahu’s office has not commented on the reports, but the prime minister said at the weekly Cabinet meeting that: “Now that I know what is being investigated I can tell you with certainty: There will be nothing because there is nothing,” something he has repeated since the news of the investigations broke two weeks ago.

Israel television reported on Saturday night that Netanyahu asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry three times in 2014 to intervene to reinstate a long-term visa to the United States for film producer Arnon Milchan. The visa reportedly was secured and Milchan provided many expensive gifts to the Netanyahus, such as cigars and pink champagne.