Amid indications that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will seek to advance legislation to render himself immune from prosecution in three criminal cases in which he is facing indictment, and that he will also seek to prevent Israel’s Supreme Court from intervening in this effort, The Times of Israel here publishes the first full translation of the interim charge sheet against Netanyahu.
The original Hebrew document, signed by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who has overseen the criminal investigation of the prime minister, was sent to Netanyahu on February 28, 2019, and was also made publicly available. It specifies that the attorney general intends to charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust in all three cases, and with bribery in one of them. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. He has alleged that the investigation, the subsequent police recommendation to charge him, and Mandelblit’s subsequent decision to press charges pending a final hearing, constitute a witch hunt and a political vendetta pursued by the political opposition, the media, the police and the state prosecution.
Prior to the April 9 elections, Netanyahu gave mixed signals when asked whether he would seek to evade prosecution by means of Knesset legislation to guarantee himself immunity and to prevent the Supreme Court from overturning that immunity. On one occasion, in a late March television interview, he dismissed the idea but then backtracked within seconds. On May 15, a Channel 12 television report claimed Netanyahu had conclusively decided to legislate in order to avoid prosecution for as long as he remains in office. It claimed Netanyahu and members of his close circle had begun briefing Likud MKs “on how to market this to the public.”
The TV report quoted what it said was the message Netanyahu had conveyed to Likud MKs, as follows: “The citizens of Israel deserve a full-time prime minister. I’ll deal with my legal issues when I have completed my time [as prime minister]. The citizens of Israel knew about my legal situation and elected me. If I were focused on my personal best interests, I’d manage my legal battle as prime minister and not as an ordinary citizen, but I recognize that this is not in the best interests of the state.”
Opposition politicians and some legal analysts have argued that the passage of retroactive legislation designed to render a prime minister immune from prosecution for alleged offenses committed while in office, and of legislation formulated to prevent the Supreme Court from overturning such a decision, would constitute a major breach of Israeli democracy.
The three cases against Netanyahu can be summarized as follows: Case 1000 involves accusations that Netanyahu received gifts and benefits from billionaire benefactors including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in exchange for favors; Case 2000 involves accusations that Netanyahu agreed with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth; and Case 4000 widely seen as the most serious against the premier, involves accusations that Netanyahu advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, in exchange for positive coverage from its Walla news site.
Here, however, is the full charge sheet, as conveyed by Mandelblit to Netanyahu, spelling out in great detail the substance of the allegations in each of the three cases. (This translation is unofficial, and any mistakes are ToI’s own.)
28 February, 2018
23, Adar 1, 5779
1. You have held high office in the public service for many years. From 1996 to 1999, and since 2009, you served, and continue to serve, as prime minister of Israel. You have served over the years as the head of many government ministries. Among other positions, you served from November 2014 to May 2017 as minister of communications. On the basis of the aforesaid, you were a “public servant” as the term is defined in Section 34 (24) (1) of the Criminal Law of 1977 (hereinafter: “the Criminal Law”). You held no public position from 1999 to 2002.
Following are allegations of criminal acts committed by you in three cases over the periods of time that you were a public servant.
CASEFILE 1000: A Description of the Main Allegations
2. As stated, you have held high positions in the public service for many years.
3. Arnon Milchan (hereinafter: “Milchan”) is an Israeli citizen and businessman who owns businesses in various fields in Israel and abroad. Milchan, who lives permanently in the United States, had a practice of coming to Israel on extended visits.
4. Since 1999, you have had a relationship with Milchan in various forms, which placed you in a severe and ongoing conflict of interest. From October 2011 to December 2016 (hereinafter: “the period relevant to this charge”), together with the personal relationship that existed between you, you received various favors, sometimes at your own request, which consisted mostly of providing goods of substantial monetary value on an ongoing basis. During the relevant period, the benefits were given to you in association with your public positions and your status as prime minister of Israel.
5. James Packer (hereinafter “Packer”) is an Australian businessman. Milchan introduced Packer to you in 2013. From 2014 to 2016, Packer gave you benefits of substantial value on an ongoing basis. These benefits were given to you in association with your public positions and your status as prime minister of Israel.
6. During the relevant period, as part of your duties in your public positions, you acted for Milchan’s benefit, while you were in a severe conflict of interest between your personal obligation to Milchan and your obligation to the public, in three instances: You exerted influence on officials of the United States government to grant Milchan a visa on two occasions; at the same time, you asked Yair Lapid, who was finance minister at the time, to extend the income tax filing and payment exemption from which Milchan benefited at the time; you acted on your own by instructing the director general of the Ministry of Communications, Shlomo Filber (hereinafter “Filber“), to assist Milchan in matters of regulation regarding the merger between the Reshet and Keshet communications companies (hereinafter “Reshet” and “Keshet” respectively) so that the investment that Milchan was contemplating at the time would be financially worthwhile for him.
Following is the list of allegations in your case as shown by the evidence:
A. Your Relationship with Milchan
7. As stated, Milchan is an Israeli citizen and businessman who owns businesses in various sectors in Israel and abroad. Among other things, Milchan owned stock in the Machshirei Tnuah company, which incorporated in Israel, from 2004 to 2008, and owned stock in the Israel 10 communications company (hereinafter “Channel 10”) from 2005 and 2015. A primary area of Milchan’s businesses is producing films in the United States, where he lived on a permanent basis, as noted above.
8. You met Milchan in or around 1996, during the period in which you served as prime minister of Israel.
9. In or around 1999, you and Milchan formed a relationship involving various associations and links:
a. A friendship existed between you and Milchan that included meetings from time to time, including with members of your families, and telephone conversations.
b. Over the years, and including the period relevant to this charge, Milchan gave you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, favors that consisted mostly of boxes of cigars and cases of champagne amounting in value to hundreds of thousands of shekels, on an ongoing basis, in a large number of cases, sometimes at the request of both of you, and in various ways, as shall be listed below.
c. Milchan also served as your right-hand man, who carried out, on your behalf, sensitive tasks in the political sphere. For example, in 2015 Milchan mediated between you and Isaac Herzog, then the chairman of Zionist Union, and made his home available to you for this purpose as well.
d. Milchan also served as your right-hand man, carrying out sensitive tasks on your behalf in the communications sphere as well. For example, Milchan went to Arnon Mozes, owner of the Yedioth Ahronoth group, on your behalf in 2009, and to Sheldon Adelson, owner of the newspaper Yisrael Hayom (hereinafter: “Adelson”), in order to promote an agreement by which Adelson would limit the circulation of Yisrael Hayom’s weekend edition while Mozes would refrain from publishing negative reports about you.
In addition, over the years, and on various occasions whose dates are not precisely known, Milchan contacted Mozes on your behalf and asked him to refrain from publishing specific reports about you or your family.
3. As part of the relationship between you and Milchan, you acceded to his request by making a speech in his home in the United States in 2014 before an audience connected with his area of business, and also acceded to his request to accompany the prime minister’s entourage and stay with it when you gave a political speech to the American Congress in 2015.
10. Due to your many associations with Milchan, you had a deep personal obligation to him, which should have precluded you from dealing with matters connected to him as part of your public duties.
B. Your Relationship with Packer
11. As stated, Milchan introduced you and Packer to one another in 2013.
12. From that time, you and Packer had a personal relationship that was based upon Packer’s admiration for you as prime minister of Israel.
13. Throughout the years that you knew one another, from 2014 to 2016, Packer gave you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, benefits of substantial monetary value on an ongoing basis on many occasions, as will be listed below.
C. Acceptance of Favors from Milchan and Packer
C.1. Acceptance of Favors from Milchan — Cigars, Champagne, and Jewelry
14. In 2003, shortly after you returned to serve in a public position, Milchan began to give you favors, consisting mainly of boxes of cigars for your use and bottles of champagne for your wife’s use. At first, you both received the favors as part of social meetings, but over the years the manner of receiving them changed, and you decided to receive the favors via deliveries made by Milchan’s employees, including during times when Milchan was not in Israel at all.
15. The deliveries of champagne were generally made at your wife’s request, while you were aware that champagne was being received for her in significant amounts. The deliveries of cigars were sometimes made at your request as well. The requests, which were addressed to Milchan or to his personal assistant, Hadas Klein (hereinafter: “Klein”), also included mention of the type or quality of the favors.
16. During the relevant period of time, you received the favors from Milchan in three ways:
a. During Milchan’s visits to your home
b. During your visits to Milchan’s home
c. In deliveries made by Milchan’s employees. The deliveries were made to you or to someone on your behalf at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem or to employees of the Prime Minister’s Office at various meeting points.
At each of the times and in each of the delivery methods, you received from Milchan a box or boxes of cigars, rather than a single cigar. Each box, which contained 10 to 25 cigars, was worth between 2,000 and 3,000 shekels.
Similarly, as a rule, at each of the times and in each of the delivery methods, a case of six champagne bottles, and sometimes two such cases, were delivered, rather than a single bottle. The cost of each bottle of champagne ranges between 250 and 350 shekels, and in any case the cost of each case of six bottles ranges between 1,500 and 2,100 shekels.
17. The favors were given to you constantly and frequently throughout the relevant period, to the point where it may be said that they were a kind of “supply line” of cigars and champagne.
18. In addition to the above, in 2016 your wife received jewelry from Milchan on one occasion, in response to your request, and with your involvement.
19. During the period relevant to this allegation, the value and amount of the favors that you and your wife received from Milchan amounted to substantial sums, with their value reaching 477,973 shekels. You were aware of the full amount of the cigars and the acceptance of the jewelry, as well as the acceptance of the champagne at a substantial amount and in a regular manner. The benefits were given to you according to the following distribution:
Cigars — NIS 267,254
Bottles of champagne — NIS 199,819
Jewelry — NIS 10,900
Total — NIS 477,973
A list of the benefits that you received from Milchan, listed by year, is attached in the table marked Appendix A in this charge sheet.
20. You received the aforementioned benefits from Milchan in connection with your public positions and your status as prime minister.
C.2. Acceptance of Favors from Packer
21. From 2014 to 2016, both you and your wife received favors from Packer that included boxes of cigars and cases of champagne. These favors joined the favors of the same type that you received from Milchan during those same years.
22. You received the favors from Packer in four ways:
a. As part of social meetings in Packer’s home in Caesarea or at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem
b. Via deliveries made by Packer’s employees to the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem
c. By passing the favors among neighboring homes in Caesarea
d. By taking the favors independently from Packer’s home, by you or by members of your family, when you were using Packer’s home and buildings in Packer’s absence
23. In general, in the methods listed in Sections 23(b) through 23(d) above, the champagne bottles were given at your wife’s request, while you were aware of the fact that significant amounts of champagne were being accepted on her behalf. Some of the favors were given to you and to your wife even when Packer was not in Israel. Your requests and those of your wife were made mainly to Klein, who also served as Packer’s personal assistant.
24. The favors were given to you continuously and frequently during the period of time relevant to this allegation, to the point where it may be said that they were a kind of “supply line” of cigars and champagne bottles.
25. The value of the favors that you and your wife received from Packer, which was extremely significant, joined the favors of the same kind that you received from Milchan during those same years. As stated, the total value of the favors that you and your wife received from Packer during the time period relevant to this allegation reached the amount of NIS 229,174. You were aware of the full amount of the cigars that you received, as well as of the regular acceptance of large numbers of champagne bottles. The favors were given to you according to the following distribution:
Cigars — NIS 145,577
Champagne bottles — NIS 83,597
Total — NIS 229,174
A list of the favors that you received from Packer, listed by year, is attached in a table marked Appendix B of this charge sheet.
26. The favors were given to you by Packer in connection with your position and your status as prime minister of Israel.
D. Government-related Acts that You Were Asked to Perform while Being in a Conflict of Interest with Milchan before the Period of Time Relevant to This Allegation
27. Despite the aforementioned connections between you and Milchan, you dealt, as part of your public roles, with Milchan’s personal and business affairs. Even before the period of time relevant to this allegation, starting in 2009, Milchan contacted you regarding various matters connected with his financial or personal interests, asking you to act, as part of your public roles, for their promotion. In some instances, you acceded to his request, as listed below:
a. Channel 10: Over the years, you did not refrain from dealing with matters connected with Channel 10 even though you knew that Milchan owned stock in it. For example, you spoke with Milchan in 2009, while you were prime minister, regarding the possibility of promoting a law that would limit the amount of fees that the advertising companies charged the media outlets. Such a law would have the power to give considerable financial benefit to Channel 10. In the conversation, you promised Milchan that you would work for that.
b. The Tata Project: Milchan asked you in 2010 to help promote a project in partnership with Ratan Tata, an Indian businessman (hereinafter “Tata”), which included the construction of a free-trade zone with cooperation between Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority, that would contain a plant for manufacturing low-cost vehicles and a school for vehicle-related professions. The project’s construction required large-scale legislative amendments. Milchan had a significant financial interest in promoting the project.
You acceded to Milchan’s request and carried out, within the framework of your position, a series of actions to move the project forward, on your own and through civil servants subordinate to you. As part of this, you met with Milchan’s financial representative, accountant Ze’ev Feldman, who told you about the project; you met Tata, Milchan, and Feldman in a joint meeting, and you summoned Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, then the coordinator of government activity in the territories, for an immediate meeting so that he might examine the possibility of promoting the plan; you made arrangements with defense officials in order to allow Tata and Milchan to fly to Jordan in order to meet with the king of Jordan, and you also arranged matters such that meetings headed by the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office would be held at the Prime Minister’s Office in order to examine the promotion of the project.
The project was not promoted in the end, evidently due to the upheavals that began in Arab countries in 2011.
E. Government-related Activities that You Carried Out while in Conflict of Interest with Milchan during the Period Relevant to this Allegation
28. During the period of time relevant to this allegation, Milchan contacted you regarding various matters related to his financial or personal interests, and you acted, within the framework of your position, to promote them:
a. Visa to the United States — In 2013 and 2014, Milchan asked you many times, within the framework of your position, to intervene with officials in the American administration in order to solve a problem regarding the extension of his visa to the United States. At first, Milchan contacted you, immediately on leaving the United States Embassy, where he was told that a note appeared about his case in the computer system regarding the extension of his visa. You acceded to his request and acted in this matter within the framework of your position, immediately, and had a conversation on the subject with United States Ambassador Dan Shapiro in order to assist Milchan. Shortly thereafter, his visa to the United States was extended, but only for one year, unlike in previous cases where the visa was extended for a longer period of time.
Following this, and although the visa had been extended already, as stated, Milchan asked you again to assist him, within the framework of your position, by asking American administration officials to extend his visa for a longer period of time. Milchan and Klein also contacted employees in the Prime Minister’s Bureau many times regarding this matter, asking them to pass this message on to you.
During one of the times that Milchan asked you to help him regarding the visa, he came to the Prime Minister’s Residence and waited for you there. When you arrived at the residence together with the chief of your bureau at the time, Ari Harow, Milchan told you that he had brought a box of cigars for you and a case of champagne bottles for your wife, and asked you to call American Secretary of State John Kerry regarding his visa problem.
Acceding to Milchan’s request, you spoke about the matter with Secretary Kerry at the time, both in a meeting and in a telephone conversation.
During 2014, and after Milchan’s calls to you and your calls to Kerry, Milchan’s visa was extended for an extended period of ten years.
b. Extension of income-tax exemption — In 2013, Milchan asked you to work for the passage of amendments that would allow an extension of the exemption given to returning residents from filing and paying income tax on assets and revenue outside Israel (hereinafter: “the exemption”). Milchan had benefited from returning-resident status since 2009, and by law was eligible for the exemption for ten years. Together with his attorney, Pinhas Rubin, Milchan, who wished to extend the exemption for an additional ten years, asked the finance minister at the time, Yair Lapid, to pass amendments that would enable the exemption to be extended. Lapid expressed reservations regarding the request.
Near that time, Milchan also contacted you regarding the matter, within the framework of your position, asking for your intervention on the matter so as to promote his request. You then contacted Lapid and raised the subject during two professional meetings that you had with him in your role as prime minister. During these meetings, you expressed your support for the extension of the exemption, while Lapid said that he did not believe that it should be extended.
c. Merger of the Reshet and Keshet communications companies — Milchan contacted you in 2015, when you were serving as prime minister and as minister of communications, asking you to help him regarding regulation matters in order to move forward the merger deal between the Reshet and Keshet communications companies. Milchan, who had looked into the possibility of buying stock in Reshet, wanted the merger so that the transaction would be profitable. You granted Milchan’s request immediately, summoned Filber, director-general of the Ministry of Communications at the time, at a late hour of the night, and instructed him to assist Milchan. You worked for the deal later on, also because you wanted a close associate of yours to be in an influential position in this major media outlet, and treat you well.
In accordance with your instruction, Filber held a series of meetings with Milchan, Feldman, and other officials connected with the matter. Filber made it clear during these meetings, with your approval, that the Ministry of Communications would present no obstacle to carrying out the merger. Throughout this period of time, you requested and received ongoing updates from Filber on the matter, and gave your blessing to the progress of the merger.
In addition, you yourself held a meeting with Milchan, Feldman, and Filber. During the meeting, which took place in Milchan’s home under social circumstances, you discussed the business and regulatory aspects connected with, among other things, the merger deal, and at that time you asked whether and how you could help move the deal forward.
In the end, the deal did not take place due to a lack of agreement between the shareholders of Reshet and those of Keshet.
F. Violation of the Rules of the Asher Committee
29. In order to prevent conflicts of interest and protect the integrity of ministers and deputy ministers, the government decided in 1978 to adopt the recommendations included in the report of the committee that it appointed, which was headed by Supreme Court Justice Shlomo Asher (hereinafter: “the rules of the Asher Committee”). The rules were anchored in a government resolution, and it was determined that they would apply to ministers and deputy ministers (the rules were amended later on in government resolutions passed on July 1, 1980 and November 28, 2002).
30. The rules of the Asher Committee state that a minister during his term of office shall act in an unbiased manner, with fair treatment of all and without even the appearance of any personal interest in his decisions or actions (Section 3). They also state that a minister is obligated to run his affairs such that no conflict of interest shall be created or exist between the fulfillment of his duties as a minister and his personal affairs (Section 4), and that in a situation of conflict of interest, he may not take part in any way in an action or the making of a decision (Section 7[a]). The rules also forbid a member of the government from receiving any salary or benefit aside from his salary from the state (Section 6).
31. In light of your relationship with Milchan, with its many associations, you ought to have reported the conflict of interest in which you were with Milchan to the state comptroller, in accordance with the rules of the Asher Committee, but you did not.
32. On October 21, 2009, in response to a request from State Comptroller Judge (ret.) Micha Lindenstrauss, you sent, via your agent, a letter on the subject of “regulations for preventing conflicts of interest,” in which you said that no conflict of interest existed regarding any of your close associates, and affirmed that if any suspicion of a conflict of interest arose, you would report it.
33. On November 20, 2015, you filled out a “questionnaire for locating a possible conflict of interest for one who has been appointed to serve as a minister or deputy minister.” In Section 8 of the questionnaire, you were asked to declare business dealings with others that might place you in a situation of possible conflict of interest. In your reply to this section, you wrote: “A conflict of interest arrangement exists with attorneys A. D. Shimron and Yitzhak Molcho.” You made no mention of the situation of conflict of interest in which you were concerning Milchan.
7. Acts of Breach of Trust
34. According to the allegation, in the acts described above you committed, during your term of service, acts of breach of trust that compromise integrity and the public trust, as listed below:
a. You damaged the image of the civil service and the people’s trust in it by conducting, during your time in public office, and primarily as prime minister, improper relationships with Milchan and Packer, as part of which you received favors from them in association with your public positions and your status as prime minister of Israel, in various ways, sometimes by request, continuously, in significant amounts, in the ways listed above, in an amount that reached NIS 707,146 during the relevant time period.
b. You acted within the framework of your public positions, and primarily your position as prime minister, in favor of the businessman Milchan, when you were in a situation of severe conflict of interest between your personal obligations to Milchan and your duties to the public, in the three cases detailed in Section 5 above:
1. Your irregular actions with officials of the United States administration in order to help Milchan solve the problem regarding his visa to the United States
2. Your irregular actions with the finance minister, Yair Lapid, to help Milchan extend the term of the exemption from reporting and paying tax on his income outside Israel
You interfered in the way that the ministries you headed handled matters relating to Milchan, when you were in a situation of severe and ongoing conflict of interest between your personal obligations to Milchan, which stemmed from your personal relationship with him and the favors that he provided to you, and your duty to the public
3. Your irregular actions, on your own and via Filber, the director-general of the Ministry of Communications, to help Milchan regarding matters of regulation relating to the merger deal between the Reshet and Keshet communications companies so that the investment that Milchan was considering at the time would be financially profitable for him as part of the deal that you and Milchan wanted.
35. There were a series of aggravated grounds for the acts of breach of trust that you allegedly committed, as listed below:
a. You committed the aforementioned acts during your term in high office as head of the Israeli government and minister of communications in the Israeli government.
b. The amount of favors that you received over a five-year period is very high.
c. You interfered in the way that the ministries you headed handled matters relating to Milchan, when you were in a situation of severe and ongoing conflict of interest between your personal obligations to Milchan, which stemmed from your personal relationship with him and the favors that he provided to you, and your duty to the public.
d. You were out of line in everything related to your actions regarding Milchan’s affairs in the matter of the visa and the matter of the merger of the Reshet and Keshet companies because you acted within the scope of your positions in a manner other than that accepted or required for dealing with these matters. You likewise used Filber, the director-general of the Ministry of Communications, who was subordinate to you, to promote Milchan’s personal interests, which were also desirable to you.
e. You knowingly violated the rules of the Asher Committee in an ongoing and deliberate manner. You placed yourself in a situation of conflict of interest and derived personal benefit for yourself in violation of Sections 3, 4, 6(3)(1), and 7(1) of these rules.
f. You acted to conceal the benefits that you received from Milchan and Packer, and as part of this you refrained from disclosing to the state comptroller the situation of conflict of interest in which you found yourself as a result of receiving favors and your personal relationship with Milchan.
36. By these actions, you allegedly took advantage of your position and status, and caused substantial and severe damage to the proper functioning of the public administration, the integrity of civil servants, and the public’s trust in civil servants and those who serve the public.
37. Due to the acts listed above, I am considering prosecuting you for offenses of fraud and breach of trust — under Section 284 of the Criminal Law.
CASEFILE 2000: A Summary of the Allegations
38. As stated, you have held high positions in the public service for many years.
39. Arnon Mozes (hereinafter: “Mozes”) is a businessman whose main area of operation is the media field. Mozes is the owner of the Yedioth Ahronoth group. The Yedioth Ahronoth group publishes, among other things, the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth and owns the Ynet website (hereinafter: “Ynet”). As editor-in-chief of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Mozes has a great deal of influence over the content of the newspaper and the website.
40. In 2007, Sheldon Adelson founded the Yisrael Hayom newspaper (hereinafter: “Yisrael Hayom“). The distribution of this newspaper had a marked detrimental financial effect on the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper under Mozes’s ownership.
41. A deep rivalry existed between you and Mozes for many years. At the same time, each of you held an interest that it was in the other’s interest to promote: You wanted to improve the manner in which you and your family were reported about in the Yedioth Ahronoth group, particularly during an election campaign, and you knew that Mozes had substantial influence on the content of Yedioth Ahronoth and of Ynet. Mozes wanted limitations imposed upon Yisrael Hayom in order to derive significant financial benefit.
42. It is alleged that against the backdrop of these interests, you held three series of meetings with Mozes between 2008 and 2014: the first in 2008–2009, the second in 2013, and the third in 2014. During each series of the aforementioned meetings, you had a conversation with Mozes during which you discussed the manner in which the media outlets of the Yedioth Ahronoth group reported about you, and reducing the damage that Yisrael Hayom was causing the Yedioth Ahronoth group.
43. It is alleged that during a conversation between you and Mozes, in a meeting that took place in the last quarter of 2014 (hereinafter: “the time period relevant to this allegation”), which took place on December 4, 2014, and before the elections campaign for the Twentieth Knesset (hereinafter: “the elections period”), Mozes offered you a bribe: He would significantly improve the way you were reported in the media of the Yedioth Ahronoth group, and in exchange you would act, within the purview of your public position, to promote legislation that would impose restrictions on Yisrael Hayom, in a softened version of the bill that was proposed in the Knesset by MK Eitan Cabel (hereinafter: “Cabel”).
It is also alleged that during this meeting, although you had not asked for a bribe or set one as a condition, you did not turn down Mozes’s offer. Instead, you continued to hold a long and detailed conversation with him about the components of the bribe that he offered you. In other words, you discussed improving the reporting. You also discussed the promotion of the aforementioned legislation, including ideas that you raised regarding the manner in which it could be carried out during the election season, even though you actually had no intention of promotion the aforesaid legislation. At the end of the meeting, you told Mozes that you intended to look into the likelihood of passing the legislation during the election period.
After this meeting, you held a clarification with coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, [and] House Committee chairman Yariv Levin (hereinafter “Elkin” and “Levin,” respectively) about examining the likelihood of promoting legislation during election season, in accordance with Mozes’s offer of a bribe. You were told during this meeting that it was not possible to promote the legislation at that time. You then held another meeting with Mozes, also at your own initiative, in order to update him and continue the conversation with him about the components of the bribe that he had offered you.
44. Although you did not accept the offered bribe, you committed the actions listed above in order to cause Mozes to influence the manner in which you were covered in the media outlets owned by the Yedioth Ahronoth group and avoid negative publicity that would be damaging to you or your family, at least as long as the talks between you continued. You did the aforementioned things while clearly taking advantage of your public role, which was the reason that Mozes contacted you with an offer of a bribe, and you led him to believe that you would consider the possibility of using your governmental power to promote the legislation that would benefit him, even though you had no real intention of doing so.
A List of the Allegations
45. A deep rivalry existed between you and Mozes over the years. Despite that, as mentioned, you and he had three groups of meetings between 2008 and 2014 during which you discussed the way that you were covered in Yedioth Ahronoth and the imposition of restrictions on Yisrael Hayom: in 2008–2009, 2013, and 2014, as described above.
Meetings between 2008 and 2009
46. You had several meetings with Mozes beginning in late 2008, and with the approach of the elections for the Eighteenth Knesset, which took place on February 10, 2009.
47. The meetings, which were held at your initiative, took place in secret, and were not documented in your appointment calendar or in Mozes’s appointment calendar.
48. During these meetings, you and Mozes reached an understanding according to which Mozes would influence the manner of your coverage in the Yedioth Ahronoth group’s media outlets, while in exchange, you would work to convince Adelson not to publish the weekend edition of Yisrael Hayom. Following this, you contacted Adelson, asking him to postpone the publication of the weekend edition of Yisrael Hayom. The edition was published for the first time approximately a year later. Following messages conveyed by Mozes that its continued distribution would lead to negative reports about you and about members of your family in Yedioth Ahronoth, you contacted the businessman Milchan and Nir Hefetz, the director of the spokesperson’s department of the Prime Minister’s Office at the time, who had worked at Yedioth Ahronoth in the past (hereinafter: “Hefetz”), and asked them to bring about an agreement between Adelson and Mozes.
Meetings in 2013
49. Soon after the elections for the Nineteenth Knesset on January 22, 2013, you held six or seven additional meetings with Mozes at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.
50. The meetings, which were held at your initiative, took place in secret and were not documented in your appointments calendar or in Mozes’s appointments calendar.
51. During those meetings, you and Mozes agreed that he would influence coverage of you in Yedioth Ahronoth and you would ask Adelson to limit the distribution of Yisrael Hayom or charge a fee for Yisrael Hayom.
52. Later on, you told Mozes that you had spoken with Adelson as both of you had agreed, but Adelson refused each of the alternatives.
The Meetings in 2014
A. The Background of the Meeting
53. On March 12, 2014, Cabel submitted the Bill for the Advancement and Protection of Print Journalism in Israel, 2014, the purpose of which was to require payment for any daily newspaper with a wide circulation (hereinafter: “the bill”).
54. The bill was placed before the Knesset on May 12, 2014.
55. On October 27, 2014, the first day of the Knesset’s winter session, Cabel asked the Knesset secretariat to bring the bill up for a preliminary reading vote in the Knesset assembly without a discussion on it taking place beforehand in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation (hereinafter: “the Ministerial Committee”). The vote on the bill was set for October 29, 2014.
56. On October 29, 2014, Cabel asked that the vote on the bill be postponed, which allowed the bill to be discussed in the Ministerial Committee.
57. On November 2, 2014, the Ministerial Committee met to discuss the bill and decided to allow the members of the cabinet freedom of voting on the bill.
58. On November 12, 2014, the Knesset assembly approved the bill in preliminary reading.
59. On December 2, you dismissed Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. The resignations of other ministers who were members of Yesh Atid and Hatnuah soon followed.
60. On December 3, 2014, the Dissolution of the Nineteenth Knesset, 2014, was approved on first reading. On December 8, the dissolution law was approved on second and third reading.
61. The elections for the Twentieth Knesset took place on March 17, 2015.
B. Your Meetings with Mozes in 2014 — An Overview
62. In the last quarter of 2014, you held a series of six meetings with Mozes in the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. The meetings took place on September 27, 2014, October 26, 2014, November 1, 2014 (hereinafter: “the early meetings”), December 4, 2014 (hereinafter: “the fourth meeting”), December 13, 2014 (hereinafter: “the fifth meeting”), and December 28, 2014 (hereinafter: “the sixth meeting”). The fourth and fifth meetings were recorded, at your request, using the mobile device of your bureau chief, Ari Harow (hereinafter: “Harow”), without Mozes’s knowledge.
63. The meetings, which were held on your initiative, took place in secret and were not documented in your appointments calendar or in Mozes’s appointments calendar.
64. Your interests and those of Mozes were in the background of the series of meetings during the relevant time period, with each of you aware that the other had the ability to promote his interest. You wanted to improve the way that you and your family were covered in the Yedioth Ahronoth group. This was very important to you, particularly during this time period, which was the elections period for the Twentieth Knesset. You knew that Mozes could have a substantial influence on the content in Yedioth Ahronoth and on Ynet. For his part, Mozes wanted legislation that would limit Yisrael Hayom, which would benefit him financially, and wanted you to use your governmental power as prime minister to move that forward.
C. The Early Meetings (Meetings 1–3)
65. In the early meetings, or in some of them, you spoke with Mozes about the possibility of limiting the activity of Yisrael Hayom via legislation that was softer than Cabel’s bill, in a version on which both of you agreed (hereinafter: “the agreed-upon version of the law”). As part of this, both of you discussed limiting Yisrael Hayom to two-thirds of its circulation at that time. Both of you also discussed concrete measures for changing the way that you were reported in the media outlets owned by the Yedioth Ahronoth group.
66. In addition, during the early meetings and in telephone conversations that Harow held with Mozes on your behalf, you spoke with Mozes about the anticipated date of the preliminary reading of the bill, and as part of this, both of you discussed the position of the government and of the coalition regarding it. Particularly, in one of the telephone conversations that Harow had with Mozes on your behalf, he asked Mozes to contact Cabel and ask him to contact Levin in order to coordinate the postponement of the vote in preliminary reading and the routing of the bill to a discussion in the ministerial committee, without Mozes revealing to Cabel that he was acting in coordination with you. Likewise, in the third meeting on November 1, 2014, you told Mozes that you would work for freedom of voting in the ministerial committee regarding the bill in order to get it approved. While this was going on, you hid from Mozes the plan that Elkin had shared with you, which was that if the bill was approved in preliminary reading, it would be routed to the House Committee in order to have it “get stuck” there.
67. On November 2, 2014, you acted to have the ministerial committee decide to give freedom of voting to the government ministers regarding the preliminary reading of the bill, as you had told Mozes during your meeting with him, and, as stated, keeping Elkin’s plan a secret from Mozes.
68. On a date that is not precisely known, between November 12, 2014 and December 3, 2014, Harow met at your request with House Committee chairman Levin in Harow’s home in Modi’in. During this meeting, Harow and Levin discussed the legislation that would limit Yisrael Hayom, an alternative to Cabel’s bill, whether restricting the newspaper’s circulation or cancelling its weekend edition.
69. Likewise, on a date that is not precisely known, after the early meetings, and before the next meetings with Mozes, you consulted with attorney David Shimron, who would advise you from time to time on legal and personal matters. As part of this, you met with Shimron before your next meetings with Mozes, which you planned to record. During the consultation, Shimron told you that in your conversations with Mozes, you should beware of a situation in which your requests to Mozes were bound up with Mozes’s requests to you as a public servant, as a “quid pro quo.”
The Acts that Are the Topic of the Allegations
D1. The Fourth Meeting
70. As stated, the fourth meeting took place on December 4, 2014, after the dismissals of Ministers Livni and Lapid and the decision to hold early elections for the Twentieth Knesset. Harow was also present at the meeting.
71. At that time, and with the elections approaching, a change in the way in which you were reported in Yedioth Ahronoth and on Ynet was of great importance to you, and you felt that it had a critical influence upon the chances of your winning the upcoming elections. Yedioth Ahronoth was one of the two leading daily newspapers in Israel at the time (together with Yisrael Hayom), and Ynet was one of the two leading news sites in Israel (together with the Walla! News website).
Together with this, the possibility of passing laws after making the decision to dissolve the Knesset during the elections period was limited. Therefore, Mozes’s need for you to work for the passing of the law to limit Yisrael Hayom was all the greater.
72. During the fourth meeting, Mozes offered you a bribe. As part of this offer, Mozes promised to work for a substantial change in the way that you and your family were reported in the media outlets owned by the Yedioth Ahronoth group, and for a change for the worse in the coverage of your political rivals (hereinafter: “the gift”). Mozes made this offered gift conditional upon your using your influence as prime minister to promote the agreed-upon version of the law that would limit Yisrael Hayom, which would be of significant financial benefit to him. Several times during the meeting, Mozes promised you this gift for promoting the version of the law that you had agreed upon, using, among other things, the following words:
“Assuming that there is a law that you and I agreed upon, I will do my efforts [sic; in English] to ensure that you are here for as long as you wish. I told you that, and I repeat it, looking you in the eye and telling you this.”
73. After Mozes offered you the aforementioned bribe, even though you had no intention of promoting the bill, you did not turn down his offer, nor did you conclude the meeting with him. Instead, you told him that there was a real possibility that you would use your governmental power to promote the legislation that benefited him in accordance with the offered bribe. During the meeting, you discussed his offer with him, suggested possible ideas regarding the manner of its implementation, and told him that you would look into the matter with Levin. As stated, you acted in order to prolong the conversation, causing Mozes to influence the manner in which you were reported in the media outlets owned by the Yedioth Ahronoth group and avoid negative reports that would be damaging to your or your family, at least for as long as the talks between you were going on.
74. As far as the offered gift, you discussed the following topics with Mozes:
a. The possibility of making a substantial change in the way that the media outlets owned by the Yedioth Ahronoth group treated you and your family during the ordinary course of its work and when reporting news items. Both of you referred to this change as “turning the boat around.”
b. The possibility of changing Yedioth Ahronoth’s line of coverage for the worse regarding those whom you viewed as political rivals, including Moshe Kahlon, chairman of Kulanu, and Naftali Bennett (hereinafter: “Bennett”), who served during the relevant time period as chairman of Habayit Hayehudi.
In addition, Mozes offered to create a direct line between you, or someone working on your behalf, and Ron Yaron, editor of Yedioth Ahronoth, and Eran Tiefenbrunn, editor of Ynet, so that you could influence the content of individual items. He also proposed employing writers of articles who would work on your behalf and by your choice at the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
75. As far as the version of the agreed-upon version of the law, you discussed the following topics with Mozes:
a. The rate of limitation of the circulation of Yisrael Hayom in relative terms or in absolute numbers
b. Limiting the amount of advertising that appeared in the newspaper relative to the total number of pages
76. As far as ways of passing the law in the agreed-upon version during the elections period, you discussed the following topics with Mozes:
a. The option of promoting, in an exceptional manner, the law in its agreed-upon version during the elections period via a special Knesset committee
b. The option of promoting the law in the agreed-upon version by attaching the discussion of the law to another bill of national importance in order to enable its approval, in exceptional circumstances, even though it was an election season
c. Contacting MKs Cabel and Levin in order to promote the law in its agreed-upon version during the election period without telling them about the conversation between you and Mozes or that Mozes had offered you a bribe.
77. After the fourth meeting, in which you told Mozes that you were willing to examine the possibility of promoting the legislation that Mozes had asked for within the framework of a bribe, Mozes acted in both matters for a partial and preliminary implementation of the favor he had offered: suppressing a negative item about your wife by placing it on the back page, and a negative report about Bennett.
78. On December 12, 2014, approximately a week after the fourth meeting, you met with Levin and Elkin, and in accordance with what you had told Mozes, you clarified with them whether it would be possible to promote, during the election season, a bill that would limit Yisrael Hayom. Elkin and Levin expressed their position that it could not be done during election season. During the meeting, you refrained from telling them about the conversation between you and Mozes and about the offered bribe. Although you had no intention of promoting the legislation, you had that meeting in order to give Mozes the feeling that you were examining the feasibility of promoting the legislation that Mozes had asked for in offering you the bribe that he mentioned to you.
D2. The Fifth Meeting
79. The day after the meeting with MKs Elkin and Levin, you met with Mozes once more, at your own initiative, in order to bring him up to date and continue discussing with him the components of the bribe that he had offered you during the fourth meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, you told him what Elkin and Levin had said: that it was not possible to promote the agreed-upon version of the law during election season and that the bribe that he was offering was not possible at that time.
You allegedly committed, during your term of service, acts of breach of trust that caused substantial damage to integrity and to the public’s trust
80. Mozes expressed disappointment with these statements and expressed a lack of confidence in the possibility of reaching agreements with you at a time when it was not possible to pass the law right away. You responded by trying to convince him not to publish negative reports about you and your family all the same. To this end, since you wanted the conversation with him to continue, you pretended to support the agreed-upon version of the law, saying that you would work to promote it after the elections, and you urged him to continue the conversation about his proposal. Likewise, to this end, you told him that in your next meeting with Adelson you would speak with him, among other things, about the possibility of his limiting the circulation of Yisrael Hayom voluntarily until the legislation could be passed.
D3. The Meeting with Adelson and the Sixth Meeting
81. In accordance with your statements during the fifth meeting, on or about December 27, 2014, you indeed met with Adelson. During this meeting, you asked him to limit the circulation of Yisrael Hayom in exchange for a “withdrawal” of Cabel’s bill. When you met the next morning with Mozes for the sixth time, on your own initiative, you told him about your meeting with Adelson. The purpose of this was to keep the conversation going between you and Mozes during the election period in order to avoid negative publicity that might be damaging to you or your family.
D. Acts of Breach of Trust
82. In the acts described above, you allegedly committed, during your term of service, acts of breach of trust that caused substantial damage to integrity and to the public’s trust. You did so by not stopping your conversation with Mozes after he offered you a bribe. Rather, you held a detailed conversation with him about the components of the offer, and committed certain acts to show him that there was a real possibility that you would use your governmental power and your high public position to promote the legislation that benefited him, in accordance with the offered bribe. In other words, even though you did not ask for a bribe or make that a condition, you used Mozes’s offer and his understanding that you had the power to exert substantial influence on promoting the legislation.
You did this in order to continue the conversation with him in order to cause Mozes to influence the manner of your coverage in the media outlets owned by the Yedioth Ahronoth group during election season, and to avoid negative publicity that was damaging to you and your family, at least as long as the talks between you continued, thus improving significantly your chances of re-election as prime minister. By doing so, you caused substantial harm to the integrity of the civil service and the public’s confidence in it.
83. The acts of breach of trust enumerated above contain a series of aggravated circumstances, as listed below:
a. You committed the actions described above during your term in high office as prime minister of Israel.
b. You committed the actions described above in connection with the owner of one of Israel’s most influential media outlets, with full awareness of its substantial power and influence on Israeli public opinion.
c. You committed the actions described above during an election period, in order to influence the manner of your coverage in one of Israel’s major newspapers, as well as the outcome of the elections.
d. In the acts described above, you also involved Elkin and Levin, high-ranking elected officials from your own party, in order to give Mozes the feeling that you were looking into the feasibility of the bribe he had offered. You did this without telling them that your reason for contacting them was the bribe that Mozes had offered you. You likewise involved a civil servant, Harow, who was the chief of staff at the Prime Minister’s Bureau, in these actions.
e. The law that you discussed with Mozes as part of the bribe that he offered you had the potential of exerting significant influence on the two most popular newspapers in Israel and on the structure of the journalism market in general.
84. Due to the acts detailed above, I am considering prosecuting you for offenses of fraud and breach of trust — under Section 284 of the Criminal Law.
CASEFILE 4000 — A Summary of the Allegations
85. As stated, from December 2012 to January 2017 (hereinafter: “the period relevant to this allegation”), you served as prime minister of Israel. You also served as minister of communication from November 2014 to the end of the period relevant to this allegation. On the strength of your position as prime minister, and later on also on the strength of your position as minister of communications, you had authority to grant approvals and permits to various business acts that were performed by Bezeq, the Israeli Telecommunications Corporation, Ltd., and companies connected with it (hereinafter: “Bezeq” and “Bezeq Group,” respectively). You likewise had the power to influence governmental topics related to the Bezeq Group.
86. During the period relevant to this allegation, the sphere of communications coverage had a great deal of significance for you and for your wife, Sara Netanyahu, and you attributed decisive importance to it. During the relevant time period, you ran the communications and spokesmanship fields in a centralized fashion, approving and even writing for yourself some of the items that were released to the media, and you instructed your people on an individual basis regarding various actions that they were to take regarding the sphere of communications and spokesmanship. The improvement of your media coverage and finding outlets for conveying your messages were highly significant interests for you.
87. During the time period relevant to the allegations, Shaul Elovitch (hereinafter: “Elovitch”) was the owner of the Eurocom Group (hereinafter “Eurocom”), through which he held a controlling stake in several public companies, among them the Bezeq Group. During the relevant time period, members of the Eurocom Group, which Elovitch controlled, owed approximately NIS 800 milion shekels to various banks.
88. During the relevant time period, the Bezeq Group included several companies that dealt in various areas of the communications market, among them the Bezeq company, which was a monopoly in the sphere of landline telephony and in the sphere of Internet infrastructure. In light of the Bezeq Group’s areas of business, and in light of its special position in the communications market, the Bezeq Group was subject to regulation that was operated and outlined by the Ministry of Communications.
89. During the relevant time period, the Bezeq Group included the Walla! Communications Company Ltd., a fully-owned subsidiary of Bezeq, which operated the Walla! news website (hereinafter: “Walla”). During the relevant time period, Walla was one of the two leading news sites in Israel (together with Ynet).
90. In addition to his controlling stake in the Bezeq Group, until June 2015 Elovitch also owned, through Eurocom, shares in DBS, which provided satellite television services under the brand name Yes (hereinafter: “Yes”). A transaction involving the sale of Yes shares from Eurocom to Bezeq was completed in June 2015 in a manner that resulted in Bezeq holding all the shares in Yes (hereinafter: “The Bezeq–Yes transaction”).
91. The Bezeq–Yes transaction required your approval as minister of communications. The completion of the transaction resulted in a situation in which Bezeq paid the Eurocom group, which was owned by Elovitch, a total sum of approximately one billion shekels. Elovitch used these funds to pay the debts of Eurocom, which was under his control, to the banks.
92. The relationship between you and Elovitch began in the late 1990s, after the 1999 elections. Zeev Rubinstein (hereinafter: “Rubinstein”), who was close to both of you and had worked under Elovitch at Eurocom Group in the past, made the introduction between you.
93. You had a distant acquaintance with Elovitch until 2012. Toward the end of 2011, Rubinstein recommended to Elovitch and to Iris Elovitch (hereinafter: “Iris Elovitch” and together “the Elovitches”) that they pay a condolence call to your wife, Sara Netanyahu. Rubinstein told Elovitch that you would like to have them pay a condolence call. In December 2012, during the period of the general elections that were to take place on January 22, 2013, you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, invited the Elovitches for dinner in the official residence.
94. During the dinner, you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, made various complaints to the Elovitches regarding the type of coverage you received in the Israeli media in general, and on the Walla site in particular. During the dinner, you agreed that you would be able to contact the Elovitches, on your own and through your people, with demands regarding the media coverage on the Walla website.
95. As stated, you were serving as prime minister of Israel on the date of the dinner, as described above. Even prior to that, and based on the relevant legislation, Elovitch required your approval to take measures regarding his businesses. Thus, among other things, you signed a permit for transferring ownership of Bezeq stock, which made the transfer of ownership of the Bezeq Group to Elovitch in 2010.
96. At the same time, and as will be described below, on the date on which the abovementioned dinner took place, extremely significant regulatory business interests for Elovitch, as controlling owner of Bezeq, were at stake, first among them the reform of the wholesale market, whose fundamental principles had been outlined by Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon several months previously, in May 2012.
97. This being so, Elovitch was the controlling owner of one of the most significant groups of companies in the Israeli economy, with significant financial interests that you had the potential to influence directly and indirectly.
The relationship… became a mutual relation of quid pro quo, which included favors that Elovitch gave you in the field of media coverage, with the expectation that you would promote, on his behalf, various interests connected with the Eurocom Group and himself individually
98. This being the case, at the point in time when the meeting between you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, and the Elovitches took place, each of you had a significant interest that the other side was able to promote. You knew that Elovitch and the Walla website could improve the media coverage of you and of your family, which was very significant for you, and serve as an outlet for conveying messages, against the backdrop of your general interest, as described above, as well as your specific interest in improving the coverage during the elections campaign. For his part, Elovitch knew that you could promote his interests and those of the Eurocom Group, based on the power of your formal position as prime minister and also upon the need for your signature on various permits that were required for business dealings of the Bezeq Group, as well as the strength of your status and your influence as minister of communications, who was in charge of the regulation and supervision of the Bezeq Group and other companies under his ownership.
99. Against the backdrop of these interests, the relationship between you during the relevant time period became a mutual relation of quid pro quo, which included favors that Elovitch gave you in the field of media coverage, with the expectation that you would promote, on his behalf, various interests connected with the Eurocom Group and himself individually.
100. Shortly after the aforementioned dinner, an intensive, frequent, and extraordinary relationship began between you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, and Elovitch, directly and through mediators. Iris Elovitch joined this relationship. Within the framework of this relationship, you and your wife made various and sundry demands upon the Elovitches regarding your coverage on the Walla website, and you also made demands regarding the coverage of your political rivals.
101. The abnormal nature of this relationship finds expression in the many intensive demands over several years, hundreds of demands, sometimes on a daily basis, that were sometimes conveyed at irregular hours, for coverage or refraining from coverage of one type or another. Another egregious thing about this relationship took the form of a demand for blatant interference of the owner in specific content on the website at the behest of both you and your wife. Indeed, in a great many cases, following the demands, the Elovitches intervened concerning the way that you or your family, or your political rivals, were covered, and in many cases, their intervention led to a change in the coverage, as requested. In light of this, during the relevant time period, the view was prevalent among your people that the Walla website was collaborating in an egregious manner with your bureau, and that its content could be influenced in a way that benefited you and your wife in a way that was impossible in most of the other media outlets.
102. As stated, these demands were related to coverage of you and your wife on the Walla website that you wanted, negative coverage of your political rivals, and changing the reports that appeared on the website that you were dissatisfied with.
103. The frequency and level of the demands intensified around the elections seasons that took place between January 2013 and March 2015, and around the reports related to various affairs that dealt with you or your family, as will be described below. The abnormal relationship between you and your wife and the Elovitches regarding the coverage continued until early 2017. At that time, the employees of Walla stopped cooperating by providing biased coverage.
104. Throughout the relevant period, the Elovitches acted according to your demands. In order to fulfill them, they interfered in a blatant and ongoing manner with the content of the Walla website, the outcome of which was, as you wished, a change in the content and location of reports related to you and your family on Walla, and negative coverage of your political rivals (hereinafter: “biasing the manner of coverage” or “biased coverage”). Your demands regarding coverage and the Elovitches’ egregious acquiescence to them caused substantial harm to the professional judgment of the journalists and editors of the website, while influencing the manner of coverage on the website.
105. You and your wife demanded that the Elovitches interfere with the content on the website, and they acquiesced to your demands even though Elovitch was the controlling owner of the website during the relevant period. He was not the publisher, had no background in journalism, nor did he hold any professional position whatsoever on the website. Iris Elovitch likewise held no official position in Walla or in Bezeq.
106. You and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, made egregious demands of the Elovitches regarding coverage that you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, with the knowledge, from January 2014 at the latest, that they would give in to your demands in exchange for actions connected with your public positions, and that you were asked, or would be asked, by Elovitch to promote his various interests — and so it was. Elovitch gave you the above-mentioned favors in the expectation and mutual understanding that with regard to your power, position, and authority, you, within the framework of your public roles, would be able to help him promote matters that would give him, directly or indirectly, enormous benefit of a business and financial nature.
You did these things for Elovitch in exchange for the favors that Elovitch did for you as far as coverage. By doing so, you behaved in a biased manner and placed yourself in a conflict of interest between your public roles and your private affairs
107. In light of the aforementioned relationship and in accordance with Elovitch’s expectations, you used your power and authority as a public servant to promote subjects that Elovitch wished to advance, for him or for various companies of the Eurocom Group. As part of this, and simultaneously with the demands regarding coverage mentioned above, you dealt on several occasions with regulatory matters pertaining to Elovitch, and committed actual deeds on the strength of your position that promoted significant interests of Elovitch, as will be detailed below. You did these things for Elovitch in exchange for the favors that Elovitch did for you as far as coverage. By doing so, you behaved in a biased manner and placed yourself in a conflict of interest between your public roles and your private affairs.
108. Your involvement in Elovitch’s affairs and the actions that you carried out in order to advance his financial interests, among them a permit to attach controlling stock in Bezeq in order to issue BCOM bonds, approval of the sale of Yad 2, approval for the Bezeq–Yes deal, and other financial benefits that stemmed from your actions brought Elovitch, directly and indirectly, vast amounts of money estimated to be at least 1.8 billion shekels. Elovitch used a large portion of the money he received as a result of your regulatory decisions to pay the huge debts of the companies of the Eurocom Group, which he controlled, to the banks.
109. The background of the main portion of the regulatory actions relevant to the allegations will be listed below.
110. The Bezeq–Yes transaction — As stated above, part of the stock in Yes was held by Eurocom, and part of it was held by the Bezeq Group until June 2015. Until March 2014, the Bezeq Group was prevented from buying the complete holdings in Yes due to the opposition of the director of the Antitrust Authority (hereinafter: “the director”).
111. In March 2014, after a re-examination of Bezeq’s application to purchase the stock in Yes that was held by Eurocom, the director approved the Bezeq–Yes deal on several conditions. Since the communications minister’s approval for the deal was required according to the company’s license, Yes asked the Ministry of Communications later, in July 2014, to approve the Bezeq–Yes deal. This approval was required in addition to the approval for the deal that was required from the director, and Netanyahu’s considerations were more broad than those that the director had to consider.
112. In this context, let it be noted that the agreement that Eurocom signed with Bezeq in order to sell the stock in Yes stipulated that as long as the communications minister’s approval was given subject to substantial conditions, this would enable Bezeq’s board of directors to retract it and cancel the deal. It was important to Elovitch to receive the approval for the deal quickly, also because the money for the shares that Eurocom was to receive from the deal would be set aside in advance for the payment of the enormous debts that Eurocom’s companies owed the banks, which Elovitch was having difficulty repaying.
113. Wholesale market — Over the years, it became clear that the number of competitors in the communications market, which was limited to a small number of infrastructures, was too small to ensure effective competition in the communications market. This was because the need for infrastructure was an obstacle to entering the communications market, which was detrimental to competition in this market. The Ministry of Communications therefore promoted reforms over the years whose purpose was to open various segments of the communications market to competition.
114. In May 2012, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon published a policy paper on expanding competition in the communications market (hereinafter: “the policy paper”), in which he adopted the main recommendations of the government commission (the Haik Commission). The policy paper stated, among other things, that the owners of the infrastructure would be required to sell wholesale services to the service providers, who would provide the services using the infrastructures of the infrastructure owners. The policy paper was adopted in 2013 by a resolution passed by the government that you led, and hearings also began to be held regarding the various parts of the reform.
115. Subsequent to this, in November 2014, Gilad Erdan, who was minister of communications at the time, enacted the amendments to the Communications Law (Telecommunications and Broadcasting) (Use of a Public Telecommunications Network Belonging to a National Provider), 2014 (hereinafter: “the telecommunications amendments”). The amendments set forth the obligation of owners of infrastructure to provide wholesale services, as well as the maximum tariffs that could be charged for the service. The licenses of the infrastructure owners stated that the services would be offered starting in 2015. This reform contained three primary components that are relevant to this affair: the provision of landline Internet infrastructure, the provision of landline telephony services, and the use of passive infrastructure.
116. Structural separation — The Haik Commission report and the policy paper that adopted it recommended the abolition of restrictions that had been imposed in the past on the Bezeq Group that required it to carry out a structural separation among the various services that it provided in order to reduce its power as a telecommunications monopoly. The Haik Commission recommended that a link be made between the abolition of the structural separation and the implementation on the reform in the wholesale market.
117. Following the publication of the policy paper, and due to its interests in the matter, Bezeq began to demand that the Ministry of Communications abolish the structural separation, which would enable it to merge the provision of all the services that the Bezeq Group provided under one legal, corporate, and operational entity. Doing so would give Bezeq an enormous financial advantage, and it was for good reason that the Ministry of Communications made it conditional, for a long time, upon its effective implementation of the wholesale market reform.
The Quid Pro Quo — Exceptional Willingness to Accede to Your Demands for Biased Coverage in Walla
118. As stated in the general section above, during the relevant time period and as part of the mutual relationship of “quid pro quo” that formed between you, you and your wife demanded, directly and via others, that the Elovitches interfere in the content and the reports on the Walla website and change them in accordance with your covert interests and your public and political interests.
119. Throughout the relevant time period, Elovitch, as a rule, gave in to your demands. By putting pressure on Ilan Yeshua (“Yeshua“), the CEO of the website, and through him on its editors and the writers, Elovitch arranged matters so that the Walla website gave you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, an irregular foothold and substantial influence on the content of the website in which you and your wife had an interest and in the way it was reported. Starting in 2015, Iris Elovitch joined Elovitch and also engaged in acceding to your demands and the demands of your wife, Sara Netanyahu, and in putting pressure on Yeshua in order to have your demands met.
120. The irregular association on the coverage issue that existed between you and the Elovitches lasted until early 2017. At this time, Yeshua stopped cooperating with your demands for slanting the coverage. The background for this was your contacting the Elovitches with a demand to coordinate testimonies and interfere with evidence connected with the demands regarding the coverage and the positive response to them, in light of their fear of an anticipated investigation of the matter.
121. While your demands for interference with the website’s content were varied, at their basis were the following common goals: to improve the coverage of you, your wife, Sara Netanyahu, and the members of your family and make it prominent; to reduce negative coverage of you, your wife, and the members of your family as much as possible, and blunt the sting and limit the exposure when you were reported upon; to promote negative coverage on the website of your political rivals; and to use Walla as an outlet for conveying your political messages in wide circulation. The purpose of these demands was to serve your general media interest in receiving positive coverage for yourself and your family, your specific interest as prime minister in being re-elected to the position and continuing to serve in it, and the interest of your wife, Sara Netanyahu, in receiving positive coverage that would contribute to her public image.
You demand [that Walla] feature, prominently and for many hours, a video that you released on election day in 2015 in which you warned that “the Arabs [were] coming to the polls in droves” and called upon right-wing voters to vote for your party
122. Your demands took various forms. Among other things, you conveyed demands to post positive reports about you, your wife Sara Netanyahu, and members of your family, with your photographs, such as your demand to post photographs of your presence at the funeral of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; demands to publish reports containing political messages that you wished to convey to a wide segment of the public, such as your demand to feature, prominently and for many hours, a video that you released on election day in 2015 in which you warned that “the Arabs [were] coming to the polls in droves” and called upon right-wing voters to vote for your party; demands to increase the time period during which items that you considered positive were shown and display them more prominently, such as your demand to keep items about the dilapidated condition of your official residence on the site for a longer period of time than usual; demands to change negative headlines about you, your wife, and your family, such as your demand, near the 2015 elections, to change a headline about your fear of the election results; demands to delete negative items that were published about you, such as items about lawsuits that were brought against members of your family by former employees of the official residence; demands to place negative items and headlines about you, your wife Sara Netanyahu, and your family in less prominent locations on the website, and demands to reduce the amount of time that these items were displayed (hereinafter: “moving down”), such as your demand to move down items about the high expenditures in your official residence; a demand to prevent the broadcast of an interview that took place and to edit undesirable segments of the interview, after the fact, before it was broadcast, as happened regarding Dov Gilhar’s interview with you several days before the 2015 elections; and the demand to post negative items about your political rivals and others, such as posting an item criticizing President Rivlin for statements he made after the publication of photographs of you and of himself in S.S. uniform. All of this will be listed below.
123. When you demanded the coverage, you were aware that the extent of the Elovitches’ mobilization and willingness to accede to your demands was egregious by any accepted media standard. The Elovitches acceded to your demands, and those of your wife, regarding coverage and even made sure that you would be aware of the extent of their acquiescence to your egregious demands. They did this as part of the two-way relationship of “quid pro quo” that formed between you, and with the expectation and mutual understanding that in light of your high public position and your authority as prime minister, and later on as minister of communications as well, you would, in return for this egregious acquiescence, be able to promote matters connected with Elovitch’s business and make decisions that would benefit him in matters of decisive importance for the Elovitches and for the companies and businesses under Elovitch’s control.
124. The election seasons, which took place during the relevant time period, in January 2013 and March 2015, were peak periods in terms of the intensivity of your demands for coverage. This, among other things, was due to the importance of the Walla website for you at those times. As stated, during the relevant time period, Walla was one of the two most popular new sites, and as far as you were concerned, it had additional special importance due to the extent of its significant public exposure and its ability to serve, in your view, as a media counterweight to the Ynet website, which was Walla’s main competitor during the relevant time period regarding the degree of exposure to the public, and which you saw as a media outlet that was hostile to you and your family.
125. Additional intensive periods of your demands of Elovitch regarding coverage were noted during the coverage of various affairs concerning you and your wife, including the Meni Naftali affair; the official residences affair, during which your wife was questioned under caution; and affairs that were exposed in reports by the state comptroller that dealt with you, among others.
126. A major component of your demands had to do with negative reports that were published or that were due to be published on Walla about you, your wife, and your family. In many cases, you asked the Elovitches to prevent the publication of critical, negative coverage in advance, or to intervene in order to have critical, negative coverage that had already been published removed from the website, to change a negative headline to one that was more positive toward you and your family, and to transfer a negative report to a less prominent location on the website, among other things.
127. Your intensive demands and the Elovitches’ egregious capitulation to these demands led to the steamrolling of the editors and writers, who wished to act in accordance with accepted journalistic norms. This campaign of pressure led to coverage that was biased in your favor, your wife’s favor, and your family’s favor. In addition, your demands, and as a direct result of them the Elovitches’ intensive involvement in the coverage about you and your family on Walla, led to a “cooling effect,” causing the editors and writers at Walla to engage in self-censorship so that potentially critical reports about you and members of your family were censored in advance and never published.
128. Your demands regarding coverage and the interference with the site’s content were made to the Elovitches in two channels: direct and indirect.
129. In the direct channel, you or your wife, Sara Netanyahu, conveyed the demand regarding coverage directly to the Elovitches. You and Elovitch were in direct contact via meetings and telephone conversations in which you complained to him about the coverage of you, your wife, and your family on Walla that you felt was negative, and sometimes even made detailed demands for intervention in the website’s content. In addition, and with your knowledge, there was a direct relationship between your wife, Sara Netanyahu, and Iris Elovitch based on text messages, telephone conversations, and meetings, during which your wife complained to Iris Elovitch about negative coverage of herself and of your family on Walla, and made detailed demands for interference with the site’s content.
130. Your direct involvement in the relationship with Elovitch regarding the coverage found expression, among other things, in the fact that on August 26, 2015, you directly gave Elovitch a document containing an analysis of the manner of your coverage on Walla that, in your view, showed that the website was covering you in a negative manner. You chose to deliver this document to Elovitch via Filber, the director-general of the Ministry of Communications at the time, whose relationship with Elovitch was one of regulator and one under supervision.
131. In the second, indirect channel, you and your wife conveyed the demands concerning coverage through a third, mediating party, at first via Rubinstein and then via Hefetz, your family’s media advisor. In addition, you conveyed demands concerning coverage via media advisors who were employed by your bureau, and via other employees in your bureau, who conveyed the demands regarding coverage according to your instructions.
132. The conveying of your own and your wife’s detailed demands for interference with the content on the website through a third party were carried out verbally, in telephone conversations, in text messages, or in e-mail messages from employees in your bureau, with your involvement and control of the content of the demands, and sometimes even in their writing, usually with keeping track of the extent of the Elovitches’ acquiescence to the demand, and sometimes even with repeated demands for correcting the manner of the acquiescence until you obtained the results that you found satisfactory.
133. Your demands, and those of your wife, concerning coverage, which were conveyed at first via Rubinstein, were delivered by him to Elovitch and to Yeshua. Elovitch put pressure on Yeshua to give in to these demands, and Yeshua would contact the editors of Walla and instruct them accordingly. Yeshua kept the Elovitches and Rubinstein constantly informed regarding the acquiescence to your demands.
134. Later on, beginning in approximately September 2014, and in addition to conveying the demands via Rubinstein, you did the same via Hefetz too, conveying your demands through him as well. At your instruction, Hefetz met with Elovitch, and later on Elovitch made a connection between Hefetz and Yeshua. Elovitch briefed Yeshua, telling him that Hefetz was your representative and that his demands must therefore be met. Hefetz updated you on the content of his conversations with Elovitch and Yeshua. From then on, the connection was between Hefetz and Elovitch and Yeshua, in a pattern similar to the one described above regarding Rubinstein. In this framework, you instructed Hefetz that demands regarding coverage that came from your wife and your son, Yair Netanyahu, would be brought for your approval before they were passed on to Elovitch and Yeshua.
135. From 2015 onward, you conveyed most of your demands regarding coverage and messages via Hefetz, while a minority of them were conveyed via Rubinstein and your spokesmen Boaz Stambler, Shai Haik, and Ran Baratz.
136. Throughout the relevant time period, you received ongoing updates regarding the fulfillment of your demands, both directly and via the mediator through whom the demand was conveyed to the Elovitches.
137. The Elovitches acquiesced to a large part of your demands regarding coverage by putting pressure directly on Yeshua and indirectly on the editor and writers of the site. They also, on their own, slanted the coverage on Walla significantly in your favor, your wife’s favor, and your family’s favor. They did this out of a desire to please you, and as part of the shared understanding with you that their acquiescence to the demands regarding coverage stemmed from the Elovitches’ expectation that you would use your power and governmental authority for their benefit in matters that lay within the sphere of your authority. The Elovitches did all this in disregard of the journalistic considerations that Yeshua listed for them as a basis for opposing obedience to the demands.
138. The Elovitches’ direct involvement in the content of the website, like the fact that such involvement stemmed from your demands and those of your wife, was kept from the employees of the Walla website.
139. Below are several outstanding examples of your demands for coverage and the Elovitches’ acquiescence to these demands:
140. Several days before the day of the elections, which took place in January 2013, you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, contacted Rubinstein in order to have him convey to Elovitch and Yeshua demands to publish negative items about Naftali Bennett, who was chairman of Habayit Hayehudi at the time. This was against the backdrop of your associates’ fears that the party and its chairman were gaining strength as the elections approached. Among other things, Rubinstein demanded in your name that Elovitch and Yeshua run negative items regarding the fact that Bennett’s wife had worked in a non-kosher restaurant, that Eldad Yaniv had called for people to vote for Bennett, and that the Central Elections Committee had accepted Likud’s appeal against the use that Habayit Hayehudi made of the photographs of Bennett beside you. At the same time that Rubinstein conveyed the demands in your name, the following conversation took place on January 17, 2013 between Elovitch and Yeshua, during which Elovitch gave Yeshua messages that Rubinstein had sent to him in your name:
Elovitch: “Shaul, you have regards and many thanks. This is the material.”
Bennett: “The most prominent ad that we’ll spread during the elections — Livni is better than Bibi. She’s sometimes tougher than he is, she’s more determined….”
Bennett: “Yachimovich is a woman of truth. I’m willing to sit with her in a government.”
Yeshua: “The report is already being prepared and will be posted in a little while…. What’s there already is stronger, but we’ll do what they want.”
Elovitch: “The material that I gave you this afternoon is extremely important, primarily what they found out about Bennett’s wife: that she worked as a chef in a non-kosher restaurant (I passed her photo on, with a description of the restaurant and the menu containing the non-kosher items), and she’s a religious woman…. The second, and important, thing is Eldad Yaniv’s quote that he is Bennett’s friend and says that if people aren’t going to vote for the left wing, they should vote for Bennett.”
Yeshua: “I got the first one. I can’t do the second one. I’ll try later on, not today. There will be three against him, and that’s not reasonable.”
Elovitch: “Those are the important points that will go out today. They appreciate your involvement… very, very much. They appreciate Yinon Magal and got a corrected background about Ilan.”
Yeshua: “God help us. A correct background after everything I did…. All right. We’ll put it up on Sunday and on Monday.”
Elovitch: “I told you that’s what they thought in the bureau.”
Elovitch: “From our friend: He’s sitting and looking at Walla…. He’s referring to the big one.”
Yeshua: “The editorial and staff and I are on it….”
Elovitch: “What’s extremely important to him and to her are the restaurant and Eldad Yaniv.”
Yeshua: “Understood. We’ll back them all the way, including the restaurant and
Eldad…. It will all be there by Sunday morning.”
Elovitch: “Not good! He’s asking that people read about it over the weekend…. Shaul, he’s shouting. There’s no time to waste. It came up as a breaking-news item, not as a report, and just taking down the signage isn’t OK….”
Yeshua: “It’ll be on the home page within a minute.”
Elovitch: “It’s incredible that the large one has been sitting and waiting for hours and you haven’t managed to put up nonsense like this….”
Yeshua: “It’s up.”
Elovitch: “Finally. Keep it there for a long time…. From our friend: Please keep it up a bit for tomorrow because it’s nighttime, and tomorrow [the items about] the restaurant and Eldad Yaniv will go up for Saturday until Saturday night….”
Yeshua: “I’ve told them to keep it until 10:00 tomorrow at least….”
Elovitch: “He’s asking for it to be up until 11, and he’ll keep track of what happens later, after tomorrow. He would really like a push until Monday evening. The weekend is important to him….”
Yeshua: “All right. He’ll get strong support all weekend long, until Monday.”
141. The conversation quoted above took place between 11:00 P.M. and 1:00 A.M. In accordance with the demand, an item was published that same day on Walla under the headline: “Elections Committee: The Ads Showing Bennett Next to Netanyahu Must Be Taken Down.” This took place after the article had been posted previously in a less prominent place.
142. Rubinstein contacted Elovitch and Yeshua again the next morning, at your instruction, and asked them to publish the item described above. Elovitch and Yeshua told Rubinstein that posting too many negative items about Bennett could expose the connection between you and Elovitch and be detrimental to Walla and to you. The following conversation on that subject took place between Elovitch and Yeshua:
Elovitch: “I’ll try to hold a conference call so that you can explain to our friend, and he’ll try to take it farther even though I’m sure he won’t succeed.”
Yeshua: “The item about the chef and Eldad will hurt our friends…. If I interfere any more, one of the kids with me will run to his friends in the clique — or, Heaven forbid, to Tallie, and straight from her to Ben Caspit…. We mustn’t keep going in that direction…. I’m helping our friends now a great deal, on the home page and also with the large item that shows how the billboards are being taken down…. We kept yesterday’s headline with the large photo of Bibi up until 11 in the morning, with an enormous effect…. B.’s headquarters went ballistic on us…. The editors went ballistic on me because I stopped the posting of the headlines about Nigeria…. Then I brought it back to the main page of the elections…. They’re getting a tailwind here like no one’s ever gotten before….”
Elovitch: “Shaul, I can’t answer…. I’m just begging you…. He wants to call you again. I told him that Yinon Magal observes the Sabbath” [and therefore does not answer his phone on that day].
Yeshua: “They’re hurting themselves. We can’t arrange the site from moment to moment like this. We’re moments away from a mass resignation of all the heads of the editorial staff, with news of this getting out — [which means] colossal damage to them and irreversible damage to us.”
143. Later that day, Rubinstein contacted Elovitch and Yeshua, at your instruction, and asked them to publish a negative item about Bennett’s father:
Elovitch: “From our friend: Check possibilities: In light of the cheeky comparison that Naftali made between the character assassination that was done to Bibi after the Rabin assassination and the supposed attack on the religious Zionist members of Likud and the grave incitement in his statements on Meet the Press, I suggest that you check the photos from the anti-Rabin demonstration on Hanukkah at the Kfar Shmaryahu junction. There you’ll find Bennett’s father almost harming Rabin physically, and also at the demonstration at Wingate afterward. As far as I know, the police opened a casefile against him due to violence. If he engages in incitement against the prime minister, it might be worth it to make use of this material and make the secular public aware of the environment he comes from….
Yeshua: “I’ll sit with the team tomorrow and we’ll see what can be done….”
Later on, Rubinstein asked that your demands not be published.
Elovitch: “From our friend: Don’t publish the last thing I gave you about Bennett. Shred it….”
144. On December 1, 2013, Walla published items about the amount of expenditures in your family in your official residence. One of them appeared under the following headline: “Netanyahu’s water bill: Eighty thousand shekels per year.” Another ran under the headline: “Candles for six thousand shekels: The complete expenditures account of the Netanyahu family.” After they were published, you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, told Rubinstein to contacted Elovitch and Yeshua and ask them to place the aforementioned articles in a less prominent place. After your call, Elovitch told Yeshua to do as you had demanded, and said: “These are the patients. It’s very important that they need us.” When Walla did not fulfill your demands within your desired time frame, Rubinstein contacted Elovitch and relayed your anger to him. Elovitch told Yeshua about the messages that Rubinstein had given him, and Yeshua told Elovitch about the staff’s opposition to the demands:
Elovitch: “Nothing’s been taken down. I’ve got them on the line… he’s boiling mad!!! ‘They’ve deceived me!!!’ Everything’s on Walla, news or finance…. The item about the candles and the item with the headline about the water [bill] is in a place that’s connected to the item with the headline about the candles.”
Yeshua: “Nobody sees it there… but if you want, I’ll issue a different order. It won’t go with Yinon, but it’s already at the end of a blast…. I’ll try again with him.”
Elovitch: “Shaul, I’m backing away from this. They’ve gone insane…. The video hasn’t been taken down… One of the two items hasn’t been taken down… The talkbacks haven’t been taken down…. It’s still on the first page of the news.”
Yeshua: “It’s all being done…. He’s doing it now. I’ll talk to him again…. Another few minutes and it’ll be down. Good night.”
145. The items were finally placed in a marginal area on the website, and one item was even completely removed from the website.
146. As part of your demands to publish items about egregious expenses of the president of Israel, Rubinstein called Yeshua at 5:58 A.M. on December 9, 2013 with a demand from you: “Good morning. I’m sorry about the time. It’s an emergency [Literally: I’ve got an Order 8 (a call-up order for army reserve units in emergencies)]…. I need you urgently, please.” After they spoke by telephone, Yeshua wrote to Rubinstein:
Yeshua: “I spoke with Yinon. Everything’s on the grill…. Send material by e-mail.”
Rubinstein: “Just make sure it’s not burned too much…. I’m on the phone with them. The trend is to publish things quickly to stimulate public discourse and the president’s residence.”
Yeshua: “Send material. Yinon’s already working on it.”
Rubinstein: “Excellent! Remember the proposal to fly together, and if not, to save significantly when sending the chairman…. Put up a headline to get them off my back.”
Yeshua: “Understood on both points.”
Rubinstein: “I’ll call you. Read this, too. Walla needs to create a main headline. If Peres doesn’t fly, Knesset Speaker Edelstein will fly at the cost of a regular flight, which is appropriate, and they’ll save millions of shekels.”
147. After the demand was made, Walla ran an item under the headline: “24 hours before: Who will represent Israel at Mandela’s funeral?” The item stated that you had decided to cancel your trip due to the high costs, and therefore the possibility that President Peres would fly in your place was being considered. Yeshua later told Elovitch that the demand had been fulfilled:
Yeshua: “It’s done.”
Elovitch: “They’re not easy to work with.”
Yeshua: “Yes, the client is like that.”
148. On December 13, 2013, Rubinstein conveyed intensive and detailed requests to post items about the ceiling collapse in the Prime Minister’s Residence due to extremely inclement weather. He claimed that it happened while you were holding important working meetings there. In order to manage the correspondence on the subject, Rubinstein created a dedicated group on WhatsApp entitled “The ceiling of the inner courtyard of the building,” in which he conveyed demands for coverage on the topic:
Rubinstein: “Hi. Urgent!!! They’re asking to run images that I’ll pass on right away: the ceiling of the inner courtyard of the Prime Minister’s Residence collapsed and snow spilled inside. Water’s gotten into the electrical ducts, causing short circuits and a power outage. The prime minister, who visited, is concluding the visit of the American secretary of state to the Jerusalem municipality’s situation room to coordinate activities with Mayor Barkat. Over the past few hours, the prime minister has been coordinating and speaking with government ministers and army officials.”
Yeshua: “Send photos and material, and we’ll post them right away.”
149. Walla acquiesced to the demands, but in a manner that did not satisfy you. Following this, Rubinstein contacted Elovitch:
Rubinstein: “What’s that thing with the photo of the snowman doing there?… You should be healthy — thank you — but it’s not good. Why a snowman? Why is the prime minister smiling in the photo? He thinks they’re attacking him again! Why didn’t you use the two photos I sent? Why didn’t you do what I asked — have them write that he was holding consultations with ministers and army officials?”
Yeshua: “It’s being dealt with. They’re fixing it, and you don’t have to tell me at every other word that they think he’s being attacked, with six exclamation points.”
Rubinstein: “I’m passing it on like a tape recorder…. It’s not personal, just what they tell me….”
Yeshua: “You should be healthy. I’m taking a deep breath and going on…. It’s fixed.”
Rubinstein: “Everything I write, you get like listening to a tape recording…. Please put in the two images and the part about how he’s holding consultations…. Try to post the item up high, and keep it there for a little while. Then it can be moved down, but if possible, it should be sometime on Saturday.”
Yeshua: “All right.”
150. Later on, Elovitch sent Yeshua another message that came from Rubinstein, in which Elovitch asked him to assist you:
Elovitch: “Boss, I don’t want to fight with Ilan, but it wasn’t fixed, and nothing of what I sent was added, and the headline is still the Ayalon Highway. At least, let them put it in the highest place….”
Elovitch: “Try to help him even though he doesn’t deserve it. I’m not referring to Ze’ev; I’m referring to someone in a high place who knows how to ask, but usually it’s one-sided…. Can you meet him halfway without humiliating yourself?”
Yeshua: “I think that’s a problem…. This is one of the items on the main page. To turn a report about how something collapsed in his yard into the major story makes us look more ridiculous than Yisrael Hayom…. I put up the photographs. His text is one of the main items…. This needs to stop…. I can’t turn that into the main story…. Its placement is on the home page, as one of the four main stories. That’s prime placement. Half a million people are seeing it…. I’m with you, believe me, but we can’t bring this editorial staff into revolt. That will harm our friends…. OK, I’ll add the text.”
151. Following the demands, an item was run that same day under Walla’s banner headline about the collapse of the roof in the Prime Minister’s Residence. The item included photographs of the roof that collapsed there.
152. On January 13, 2014, you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, told Rubinstein to call Elovitch and Yeshua with a complaint about how Walla had not published your photographs from the funeral of Arik Sharon, which you attended. Elovitch sent the following messages, which he received from Rubinstein, to Yeshua:
Rubinstein (to Yeshua): “I’m looking for you. Please answer me. I need you to put up a photo of the couple from the funeral if you don’t want it to be my funeral”
Elovitch (to Yeshua): “Please make sure it’s put up on the main page for a while, and let me know so I can tell them”
Rubinstein: “Do me a favor — quickly, put up a nice picture of the couple, and let me know so I can tell them. Please and thank you.”
Elovitch (to Yeshua): “Let Ze’ev know directly when it goes up…. He’s asking when it’s going to go up — during the shloshim [thirty days after the funeral]? How can it be? Shaul, he’s screaming at me. Please… Ilan, what’s happening?”
Yeshua: “It went up right away. They photos to the story… and they’re already putting it into the article instead of the photos of the pallbearers….”
Elovitch: “Tell him.”
Yeshua (to Rubinstein): “It’s all being dealt with. They’re putting in a picture that will be appropriate for the front page. It’s already in the article itself.”
Rubinstein: “Send me the link, please.”
Yeshua: “It’s on the main page” (attaches a link).
Rubinstein: “I hope that you’ll leave it up for a bit. Make sure it’s on the front page…. What a saga! Do me a favor — make it a rule that every funeral, event, birth, and so on gets a photo of the couple.”
153. Indeed, following the demand, the photo of Prime Minister Sharon’s coffin being carried by army generals was replaced with a photo of you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, from the funeral. Rubinstein wrote to Yeshua approximately twenty minutes later:
Rubinstein: “There’s no photo, Shaul. Do whatever you want; I give up…. I’m sorry, Ilan… there’s no photo… Shaul is going to get it. They’ll be angry at me. I’ll survive….”
Yeshua: “What are you talking about? I see the photo.”
Rubinstein: “In the photo where they’re sitting down, they’re hardly visible. Look what Ynet did…. There’s no photo on the main page. I’m cutting off contact. The screaming is up to high heaven….”
Yeshua: “I’ll see whether there’s another photo… and we’ll add it….”
Yeshua (to Elovitch): “They want another photo. I’m taking care of it.”
Yeshua (to Rubinstein): “I asked to search for another nice photo and add it.”
Yeshua (to Elovitch): “It’s unbelievable. I’m trying to calm Ze’ev down. He’s panicking.”
154. A similar conversation continued to be held until the late hours of the night. Following the demands, photos of you and your wife from the funeral were placed in the article about the funeral.
155. On January 26, 2014, an article was published on Walla under the headline: “A call to Netanyahu: Stop the relationship between your son and his Norwegian girlfriend.” Following that post, Rubinstein contacted Elovitch and Yeshua on your orders with a demand that the article be taken down. Following your demand, Elovitch contacted Yeshua in order to have the article downgraded, and it was placed in a marginal location on the website. At the same time, the following conversation took place on the WhatsApp group in which Elovitch, Or Elovitch, Amikam Shorer, and others were members:
Elovitch: We’re stupid. We need him for tomorrow, to sign for Amikam.
Or: So go ahead and take it down. He’s right.
Or: Take the video down.
Elovitch: In a little while, it will all go down.
156. Rubinstein contacted Elovitch the next day, at your instructions, and demanded that he prevent the publication of another item about your son. Following this demand, Elovitch contacted Yeshua and told him to prevent its publication. “Ilan, stop it at any price… tomorrow he’s supposed to sign the issuance permit.”
157. On April 8, 2014, an item was published in a prominent place on the Walla website under the headline: “Again: Another lawsuit against the Netanyahus.” Following publication, you contacted Elovitch directly with a demand that the item be taken down. Following your demand, Elovitch contacted Yeshua and told him to remove the item:
“Try to hurry. He’s very upset…. Ze’ev wrote to me, too. I didn’t tell him that the chief had telephoned me directly.”
The item was removed from the website shortly afterward.
158. On May 10, 2014, you contacted Elovitch with a demand to run an item on the Walla website. Following your demand, Elovitch told Yeshua to run the item. In order to do this, Yeshua contacted Liran Dan (head of the public-relations section of the Prime Minister’s Office), who sent him a message: “Send me material on the topic that the big ones were talking about.”
Elovitch contacted Yeshua the next morning, asking him to make sure that your demand had been fulfilled.
Elovitch: “Are you taking care of what we talked about? Have you spoken with Liran?”
Yeshua: “I spoke with L. now. It’s all being taken care of. Soon there will be something strong on the main page…. You can tell me. L. is calling him to see exactly what he wants, and then we’ll put it up…. Besides that, an op-ed.”
Elovitch: “Does the headline match L.’s material?”
Yeshua (to Yinon Magal): “Yinon, call me now, even if that means leaving the meeting with the queen of England.”
Yeshua (to Elovitch): “Yes, I’m in contact with him all the time…. There was some nonsense, and I took care of it.”
Yeshua: “Should I put up another positive item?”
Elovitch: “If that’s possible.”
Yeshua: “I’m on it.”
Yeshua (to Yinon Magal): “Back me up. You understand what this is all about.”
Yeshua: “It went up on the main page…. Let him now so that he sees what we’re doing for him.”
159. On June 8, 2014, two days before the elections for president of Israel, you contacted Elovitch, demanding that he run an item about the strengthening of the candidacy of Justice (ret.) Dalia Dorner for president of Israel. The next day, an item about the presidential elections was the main headline item on Walla’s website. The subhead of the item reported that Dorner’s chances of election had become stronger.
160. On January 25, 2015, an item was published on Walla under the headline: “Employees’ testimonies against Sara Netanyahu exposed.” After the item was run, you contacted Elovitch and demanded that it be removed. While this was going on, Elovitch contacted Yeshua and told him to remove the article. “Take it down immediately. It’s going to prevent Yes from getting approval…. I’m going to kill you.” The item was removed.
161. Not content with requesting the removal of negative items, as stated, on the next day, January 26, 2015, you contacted Elovitch with a demand that Walla run positive reports about you that would serve to counterbalance the negative item that had run the previous day about the treatment of employees in the Prime Minister’s Residence. As part of this, you demanded that Elovitch publish the speech of the Israeli ambassador to the United States, which supported your decision to speak before the American Congress. Following your demand, Walla ran an item under the headline: “Israeli ambassador in Washington: ‘Netanyahu has a moral duty to appear before Congress’.”
162. On February 2, 2015, you told Hefetz to contact Yeshua with a demand to run an article about an audit of the Prime Minister’s Residence and the President’s Official Residence by the state comptroller. Following your demand, Hefetz contacted Elovitch and Yeshua:
“You’re supposed to post an article that is very important to my friend by Hagai Adoram…. It’s about the standard used by the state comptroller for auditing official residences — the Prime Minister’s Residence and the President’s Official Residence.”
163. That same day, Walla ran an article under the headline: “What is allowed in the Prime Minister’s Residence?” The article’s primary premise was that the management of the Prime Minister’s Residence could not be audited because there were no properly instituted management regulations for the residence, and because there was no documentation of the way previous prime ministers had managed it.
164. On February 21, 2015, Walla ran an item beneath the headline: “Meni Naftali: Sara told me to take gifts from the official residence in Jerusalem to their private home.” After the item was published, you contacted Elovitch and demanded that he remove the item from the website. Following your demand, the item was moved down to a less prominent place on the website and then removed.
165. On March 7, 2015, ten days before the election, a rally was held in Rabin Square with the title “Anyone but Bibi.” Walla, like many other media outlets, carried the rally on live broadcast. During the live broadcast of the rally, you contacted Elovitch and asked him to stop the broadcast. At the same time, you told Hefetz to contact Elovitch and Yeshua to have the broadcast stopped. Following your contact, Walla stopped the live broadcast of the rally while the other media outlets continued broadcasting it. Due to the displeasure that was expressed by your close associates regarding the broadcast of the rally on Walla, even for a shorter length of time, Yeshua wrote the following to Hefetz:
“Nir, I got a lot of flak from my boss. For Heaven’s sake, we can’t be the only ones who aren’t broadcasting — it’s on all the channels and all the websites. In any case, we’ll be stopping the broadcast at 9:00 P.M., before everyone. We’ll put up your reactions immediately and I’ve already moderated the headline. I put Grossman’s supportive interview on the main page today, and I’ve done a dozen other things. This week, I took down the weekend magazine because it contained an article about Meni. I’ve been working around the clock, and in the end I’ve taken flak from S. We can’t avoid reporting anything; we’ll be worthless if we do. Nobody supports him the way we do.”
166. On March 11, 2015, you gave an interview to Walla after a long time of not having been interviewed in the media. The interviewer was Dov Gilhar. At the end of the interview, you left the room in anger, called Elovitch, scolded him about the way the interview had been done, and even asked to do the interview again. At the same time, Hefetz began talks with Elovitch and Yeshua in order to prevent the interview from being broadcast. Following your demand, Elovitch and Yeshua promised not to broadcast the interview without your consent, and even offered to give you the opportunity to receive the interview before it was broadcast and edit it according to your comments. Indeed, the interview was not broadcast for two days on Walla even though its publication had high news value that could have moved up the broadcast of your interviews on other media outlets, and even though interviews that you gave to other media outlets were already being published.
167. In accordance with the suggestion of Elovitch and Yeshua, the interview was given to Hefetz before it was broadcast, and both of you chose which segments to edit and omit from the interview before it was shown. Hefetz asked Yeshua not to tell the editor of the website, the interview, or anyone else about it:
Yeshua: “Don’t tell Avi or Dubik anything!!!! You never got the material. Watch out!”
Hefetz: “Of course…. If anyone ever says anything, we’ll coordinate an answer between ourselves.”
Yeshua: “Send me the comment already! There’s a lot of pressure here, and in the end it will slip through without the correction.”
Hefetz: “I’m sending it…. Ilan, don’t let it slip through, don’t let it be broadcast…. Wait a bit.”
Yeshua: “I won’t broadcast it, but please, send me the comment.”
Hefetz: “At 3:08, cut starting from Gilhar’s words ‘or there’s another option.’ Go back in at 5:09, when Gilhar says: ‘We published the data just yesterday.’ In other words, so far we’ve taken out the block from 3:08 to 5:09. Another block to be taken out: from 5:17 to 5:24…. In other words, cut from Gilhar’s words ‘It’s entirely your government.’ These words stay out. 5:17… and back in on Bibi’s words ‘Remember one important thing.’ 5:24… they ask that you send the final version.”
Yeshua: “Nir, I sent you the final version via Gmail…. Approve it for me. I want to upload it…. Nir, approve it for me.”
168. Elovitch later joined the conversation about running the interview, and even forwarded messages to Yeshua that he had received from Hefetz:
Elovitch: “Shaul, our friend wants what he asked by text message — or that it not be broadcast…..”
Yeshua (to Hefetz): It won’t be broadcast unless it has everything you asked for…. The story is about to go out. I would like you to approve its being run after the editing we did with all the positive headlines. If this story gets out, it will be a thousand times more damaging to you…. The Marker is calling me. So is Channel 10. It’s out. You’re making a mistake. Let me run it.”
In the end, the interview was published on March 13, 2015 after it was edited as described above.
169. On March 14, 2015 after you told Hefetz to demand an article that reflected concern over the election results, Walla published an item in a prominent place under the headline: “Netanyahu is upset about the polls. Could there be a dramatic change? It is a real danger.” Following publication, and since the wording of the headline was not as you wanted it, Hefetz contacted Yeshua and demanded that he change the headline.
Hefetz: “Look out for your headline: Netanyahu’s upset.”
Yeshua: “I’m on it…. I thought that it was what you wanted in order to push your voters from the right wing.”
Hefetz: “No. Who’s doing that after everything that happened? Avi?”
Yeshua: “On the contrary. He granted my request and approved it with me…. You asked for the message that sends right-wing voters out.”
Hefetz: “I don’t understand. You asked for it to be written that Netanyahu was upset about the polls?”
Yeshua: “What don’t you understand? You asked to emphasize the part that calls on right-wing voters to come to vote, so that’s what happened. It’s a shame to cause an unnecessary crisis. I can’t edit every minute and every word. The goal you asked for has been achieved, and the word ‘upset’ comes with the phrase ‘over the polls.’… I’ll tell them to change it to ‘concerned.’… I’ve told them to change it to ‘concerned.’ It’s already there.”
Hefetz: “‘Upset’ is negative. ‘Concerned’ is what he said. Is that how it’s going to be for two days? ‘Upset’?
Yeshua: “No. It went up this morning at your request, and they’re going to change it to ‘concerned.’”
Following the demand, the headline was changed accordingly.
170. On March 15, 2015, two days before the elections, a rally of the right-wing parties was held in Rabin Square. The Elovitches told Yeshua to have Walla broadcast the rally live. In addition to the live broadcast, Walla sent out messages to approximately one million people in order to raise viewership of the rally’s broadcast. The Elovitches told Yeshua to let Hefetz and Rubinstein know of the wide coverage that the rally had received on Walla as compared with the other news websites so that they could inform you about it. Indeed, Hefetz informed you about the wide coverage of the rally on Walla. The coverage of the rally was very important to you because of the event’s proximity to the beginning of voting at the polls.
171. During the late evening hours of March 16, 2015, you and your wife told Hefetz and Rubinstein to contact Elovitch and Yeshua with a demand to hold a “coddling” interview with you on the morning of election day. You also contacted Elovitch later that evening and also told Hefetz to contact Elovitch and Yeshua with a demand to publish statements on Walla that you made in response to the annullment of the rotation agreement between Isaac Herzog and Tzippi Livni:
Elovitch: “Please, once again: Ask Elovitch for a good and coddling interview on the morning of the elections, Tuesday morning!!!! We’ll organize that urgently…. From her to Ze’ev…. Nir will call you. They want a caressing, coddling interview with a supportive interviewer.”
Yeshua: “I spoke with him and agreed that Bibi would go up before Tzippi and Bougie, and afterward as well. He agrees.”
Elovitch: “Who will do the interview, and how will we ensure support? She gave him flak for the interview with Nahmias, too. Ze’ev told her that I hadn’t been in the picture, so she got angry at Nir.”
172. The next morning, on election day itself, Walla published another interview with you under the banner headline, with the caption “Netanyahu in an interview with Walla: Tzippi has Herzog by the throat.” The interview also included your response to the cancellation of the rotation agreement, as you had demanded.
173. Later that day, you told Hefetz to give Elovitch and Yeshua a video in the editing of which you had participated on election day, in which you warned that the right-wing government was in danger because Israeli Arabs were coming to the polls in droves. You called upon right-wing voters to go out and vote for Likud and also to get others to do so. Later on, Elovitch told Yeshua to publish the video, which was run beneath Walla’s banner headline with the caption: “Netanyahu in video: ‘The Arabs are coming to the polls in droves.’” The video was kept under the banner headline for many hours. Shortly after it was published, Hefetz wrote to Yeshua:
“I showed Bibi what was on the main page — he’s happy”
It should be noted that the publication of such a video on television was against the election laws, which limit the publication of election advertisements on radio or television broadcasts. This restriction did not apply to publication on the Internet at the time in question.
174. On March 26, 2015, you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, told Hefetz to contact Yeshua with a demand to publish an item about a post that you published on your Facebook page, in which you expressed support for your wife and spoke about her work. The post was published against the backdrop of the legal procedures that dealt with Meni Naftali’s lawsuit. Following your demand, an item was published on Walla under the headline: “Netanyahu presents on Facebook: Look what my wife Sara did.”
175. On May 10, 2015, a conversation took place between Hefetz and your son, Yair Netanyahu, about reports dealing with Yair Netanyahu’s personal affairs. Following the publications of the items about his affairs, Yair Netanyahu called Hefetz and told him to ask Walla to take down the item about him. Hefetz told Yair Netanyahu that he had passed the demand on to Yeshua. In response, Yair Netanyahu told him to contact Elovitch directly. Both of them also discussed the possibility that Yair Netanyahu would call Elovitch himself. Yair Netanyahu then told Hefetz to tell The Marker to take down similar posts, and Hefetz said in response:
“The Marker is not Shaul. They’re not afraid of you…. For them, nobody counts — not the prime minister, and not the prime minister’s son.”
176. After this conversation, a three-way conference call took place between you, Hefetz, and Yair Netanyahu. In this conversation, you were astonished to hear that Elovitch was arguing and not giving in to a demand conveyed to him through Hefetz to take down an item:
Netanyahu: Two things need to be dealt with here. One is Elovitch. So why didn’t you tell me that he didn’t do anything, that he told you he wouldn’t take it down?
Hefetz: They’re arguing….
Netanyahu: Who’s arguing? He’s arguing?
Netanyahu: Why didn’t you get back to me?
Hefetz: Listen — I spoke with him too, and I also spoke with… he told me that. I knew. I forgot to tell you.
Netanyahu: How could you leave it like that? God Almighty! You know, I was sure that you’d taken it down, or at least….
177. On July 8, 2015, Hefetz gave Yeshua an item on your behalf and on behalf of your wife, Sara Netanyahu, about the dedication ceremony of a training center for the firefighting services in Nahariya in the presence of Sara Netanyahu. Hefetz demanded that Yeshua give the item he had attached exposure and also attached a large number of photos. After being told about the call, Elovitch contacted Yeshua and said, “Give the lady everything that’s possible. He’s killing himself for me.” This statement was made very shortly after you approved the Bezeq–Yes transaction.
178. On July 29, 2015, you announced in public that following the High Court of Justice’s ruling, buildings in Beit El would be demolished. At the same time, you announced your decision to expand construction in Jerusalem and in Beit El. That same day, a confrontation broke out between you and Minister Uri Ariel, who had published an item to the effect that your decision stemmed from an ultimatum that he had given you. Following this, you contacted Elovitch and demanded that he run an item on Walla about Uri Ariel’s “fabricated ultimatum.” Following your demand, Elovitch told Yeshua to give in to the demand and run the item. After the item’s publication on Walla was delayed, a telephone call took place between Elovitch, Iris Elovitch, and Yeshua, during which Elovitch told Yeshua that the demand must be obeyed for the sake of Bezeqk, which had submitted an appeal to the High Court of Justice at the time regarding the implementation of the wholesake market reform, and that Bezeq’s regulatory interests were much more important than the slight discomfort that would be caused to Walla’s writers:
“You don’t understand that our company isn’t… that there are more important things…. As I told you, it’s a gram against a hundred tons. Your discomfort against the High Court of Justice.”
179. The next morning, Walla published an item beneath the headline: “Elkin versus Ariel: ‘He gave an ultimatum after Netanyahu’s announcement of construction in Beit El.’” Yeshua told the Elovitches, and also your spokesman, Shay Hayek, about it. This took place after the Elovitches asked him to tell Shay Hayek so that he could tell you.
180. On August 6, 2015, Hefetz contacted Yeshua, at your instruction, and told him to publish items against President Rivlin. This demand was in regard to statements that President Rivlin had made about various reports that showed you and him in S.S. uniform. Following is the wording of the item that Hefetz told Yeshua to publish:
“A high-ranking Likud official said this evening: ‘It’s hard to understand what Ruvi Rivlin is whining about. We didn’t hear a word from him about the incitement campaign against the prime minister. We didn’t hear him condemn the images that depicted Netanyahu in Nazi uniform.”
181. The next day, an item ran on Walla beneath the headline: “High-ranking Likud official close to Netanyahu: We don’t understand what Rivlin was whining about.”
182. On August 19, 2015, following your demand via Rubinstein, Elovitch contacted Yeshua at 1:10 A.M. with a request to publish two items: one about Mendy Friedman, who immigrated to Israel following a conversation that he had with you during your visit to the United States a year before, in which you told him that his place was in Israel; and the other about the presence of your wife, Sara Netanyahu, at a performance of the singer Mariah Carey and the brief meeting between them before the concert:
Elovitch: Ilan, Ze’ev grabbed me and asked very strongly that you put up the two items, one about her and one about him. He says that all the material has been sent to you. Do the best you can.
Elovitch: Can you help with Ze’ev’s requests?
Yeshua: Of course I’ll help. First thing in the morning.
Elovitch: … Once more, we find ourselves lagging behind the rest. And this is when we have an interest, and something to lose…. Do you understand the enormous importance of keeping them happy right now? We have many requests to fix some of the injustice that’s been done, and on top of that we have a hearing in the High Court of Justice on September 14.
Yeshua: Of course. I take care of all the requests every day…. I promise that it will be all right.
Elovitch: We’ll talk when I get back, but keep the items in the meantime. There’s a very important meeting that will discuss most of the subjects on Sunday.
183. The two items were published on Walla later that day, as you had demanded. Avi Alkalay, acting editor of Walla, wrote the following to Yeshua shortly before they were published:
“The story will go up the way Kim is telling it in less than an hour…. The real story of Mendy Friedman, what’s surprising, is completely different from Kim’s version: There was no book, no autograph, no thanks to, and no because of…. I’m quite sure that you understand the gravity of inventing journalistic stories on the government’s orders. Another good day for all of us.”
184. On September 19, 2015, you contacted Elovitch and asked him to publish a negative item about Meni Naftali. Following your demand, Elovitch told Yeshua to run the item, and an item was published on Walla claiming that the purpose of Meni Naftali’s lawsuit was to cover gambling debts. Close to midnight, you contacted Elovitch again and expressed your satisfaction with the item.
185. On September 23, 2015, you told Hefetz to contact Yeshua with a demand that he run an item about stricter punishments for stone-throwers. You also asked that the headline include your own words and emphasize that this was an initiative of your own. The backdrop was your fear that Minister Ayelet Shaked wanted to take the credit for the proposal herself. Following your demand, Walla ran an item beneath the headline: “The security cabinet approved the plan initiated by Netanyahu to toughen the punishments for stone-throwers.”
186. On February 10, 2016, Walla ran a main headline that read: “Meni Naftali’s appeal against the Prime Minister’s Residence has been accepted. He will receive NIS 170,000 in compensation.” Following publication, you contacted Elovitch and demanded that the item be removed. During the day, Elovitch contacted Yeshua and told him to move down the item:
Elovitch: “Ilan, calm him down…. Keep moving it down, quickly… or change the content as you see fit.”
Yeshua: “I’m moving it down.”
Elovitch: “It’s not moving…. Make sure that it keeps moving down on the news page as well. He called again.”
187. Within a short time, the item was moved down to a less prominent spot on the website, and was later completely removed. Later that day, you and your wife told Hefetz to contact Elovitch and Yeshua with a demand to remove your reaction to the ruling. Hefetz wrote to Yeshua as follows: “The lady asked that it appear very prominently…. You can’t imagine what a devil’s dance this has been.”
188. Two hours after the correspondence between Hefetz and Yeshua, the main headline on Walla that day, which was “Meni Naftali wins his lawsuit,” was moved down to a less prominent place on the website’s home page. Two hours later, the item disappeared entirely from the home page. During the evening hours, an item appeared in a prominent place on the website under the headline: “Despite the firm ruling, Netanyahu family insists: ‘Relations in the official residence are warm.’” Early the next day, a main headline appeared on the website that read: “Netanyahu family: Relations in the official residence are excellent and humane.”
189. On February 17, 2016, you and your wife told Hefetz to contact Yeshua with a demand to run a continuation of an item that had appeared in Ma’ariv about the complaint that had been brought against Meni Naftali for sexual harassment of a former woman employee of the Prime Minister’s Residence. Your wife also called Iris Elovitch directly with a demand to publish an item on the subject, and Iris Elovitch passed the correspondence to Yeshua in order to have it fulfilled:
“Dear Iris, I was just told this moment that even you don’t support the truth! Even Army Radio and Channel 2 and the Voice of Israel interviewed the lawyer of Tzvia, the housekeeper who brought a lawsuit for sexual harassment and indecent acts that Meni Naftali did to her while she worked for us at home!!! In our bedroom!! This is an earthquake — that she filed a police complaint nine months ago and the police buried it!!! This is a huge story! The media is quiet! But a few have already interviewed her, as I wrote!!! You’re still quiet!! Why??? This is a terrible thing that the police did in order to bring down a prime minister…. How can anyone not deal with a complaint about sexual harassment and bury it??? It’s a shame that you aren’t behaving with the fairness of a media outlet: interviewing the housekeeper’s attorney, and maybe even Yossi Cohen! This is a huge story! This would happen in any other normal country: the minister of the police would resign! Do you see, in real time, how you’re disregarding justice!!!! I think it’s such a shame!!!”
190. Following your demand, the Elovitches put pressure on Yeshua to publish the item in accordance with your and your wife’s demand. Iris Elovitch and Yeshua agreed that Walla would publish the statements of the plaintiff’s attorney to the effect that she had undergone a polygraph test and been found to be telling the truth.
191. The next day, an item was published in a prominent place on Walla under the headline: “Attorney of woman who submitted a complaint against Meni Naftali: ‘She was found to be telling the truth when she took a polygraph test.’” Iris Elovitch notified your wife, Sara Netanyahu, of the publication. After the item was published, Iris Elovitch and Yeshua spoke, debating whether the item needed further amending in order to satisfy your wife, Sara Netanyahu:
Iris Elovitch: Look — then you’ll be smarter than they are. We… listen, we promised something. Let’s keep it.
Ilan Yeshua: No. I don’t want to go down to edit that. I just don’t want to.
Iris Elovitch: No, all right. But I’m saying to….
Ilan Yeshua: We promised something. We gave her a news item. Well, what? Leave it alone; it’s better than the video…. All right, I’ll try. Don’t promise her that anymore.
Iris Elovitch: I’m not promising anything…. I — I… as soon as I see her name, I get under the table…. I put on a bulletproof vest.
192. On March 2, 2016, you told Hefetz to contact Yeshua with a demand to publish an item about how MK Sharren Haskel contacted the attorney general, demanding that he investigate Meni Naftali on the grounds of a complaint made against him for sexual harassment. Following your demand, an item was published on Walla that same day under the headline: “MK to attorney general: ‘Investigate the police’s behavior in Meni Naftali’s investigation.’”
193. On March 22, 2016, you gave a speech at the AIPAC Conference in Washington, DC. That same day, Elovitch told Yeshua to make sure that Walla carried your speech on live broadcast. Later on, Yeshua reported about the broadcast to the Elovitches, who discussed the need to inform you that the speech had been uploaded to the website:
Yeshua: It was broadcast live in its entirety.
Iris Elovitch: You put it all up? You’re exclusive at the moment.
Yeshua: The speech is being carried with Dubik’s simultaneous translation.
Iris Elovitch: Keep your eye on it. We’re all at war…. Pass it on and make sure he shows it to him.
194. On May 23, 2016, you told Hefetz to contact Yeshua with a demand to publish a follow-up article about news items that dealt with the state comptroller’s report about the “Bibitours” affair, which was to be published the next morning. You wrote the report about the topic yourself. The next morning, the day that the state comptroller’s report was published, an item ran on Walla under the headline: “Netanyahu on the state comptroller’s report: ‘Officials in the media are trying to hurt Likud.’”
195. On July 6, 2016, you told Hefetz to contact Yeshua with a demand to attack Israeli television personality Assaf Harel for his mention of your late brother Yoni Netanyahu in a critical skit that was broadcast on his television program. Following this demand, Elovitch told Yeshua to publish a suitable item on the website. The next morning, before the item had been uploaded, Elovitch contacted Yeshua again: “Don’t forget Assaf Harel.” Yeshua replied: “I haven’t forgotten. I’m preparing an item. I just need to see how to do it wisely so that we won’t be perceived as Pravda.” That same day, Walla published an item under the headline: “The video that got the surfers angry: In the name of hatred of Netanyahu, the memory of the late Yoni Netanyahu can be desecrated.”
196. On November 15, 2016, you told Hefetz to contact Yeshua with a demand to publish, in its entirety, your full response to the statements that were made on the television program “Uvda” about the complaints of the former employee of the Prime Minister’s Office, Vered Swed — a response that was not broadcast in its entirety on the program. You wrote the response yourself. Elovitch asked Yeshua to emphasize the response, and not the claims made in the exposé, in the item. Walla’s writers refused because this request is problematic, and told Yeshua so:
Yeshua: There’s pressure about the headline. Can we start with the headline on the main page??
Michal: Everybody, but everybody, has the headline about the state comptroller… Ynet, Channel 2, Haaretz. It will look very bad if we take the response….
Aviram: We’ll look exactly like Yisrael Hayom.
Following your demand, an item was published on Walla that consisted mostly of your response to the exposé.
197. On November 27, 2016, Ran Baratz, head of public relations in your bureau at the time, contacted Yeshua with a request to publish an item containing statements that you made at the cabinet meeting regarding rebuilding the lives of citizens who had been harmed in the wave of arson that affected the Haifa region. Following the contact, an item was published on Walla whose headline included the statements that you had made during the cabinet meeting: “We will rebuild the lives of the citizens as quickly as possible.” Yeshua notified the Elovitches that the item had been published:
Yeshua: “It was put up at Ran’s request… he said thanks.”
Iris Elovitch: “What’s important is that Nir and Ran know and tell their bosses that there’s excellent cooperation…. We’re trying to do all we can for the father, the mother, and the son.”
198. The egregious foothold that was given to you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, on the Walla website also took the form of the opportunity that both of you were given, during the relevant time period, to express your positions regarding the approval or disqualification of candidates for the roles of editors and writers on the website. The contacts by the Elovitches to you regarding this matter came against the backdrop of complaints that you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, made to the Elovitches regarding editors or writers on the website. Following the expression of your views, several candidates were not hired to serve as editors or writers on the website.
199. From January 2017 onward, against the backdrop of your own fear and that of those around you of an anticipated investigation, as well as the Elovitches’ fear of such an investigation, you reduced the frequency of contact between yourself and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, and the Elovitches, and the conveying of coverage-related demands stopped almost entirely.
The Quid Pro Quo — Governmental Actions that You Performed in Exchange for What You Were Given
200. As stated above, during the time period that is relevant to the allegations, a relationship of quid pro quo developed between you and Elovitch, while at the same time you demanded and received the bribe, and in accordance with Elovitch’s expectations, you dealt consistently in matters concerning Elovitch’s business dealings. As part of this, you used your power and authority as a high-ranking public servant to promote matters concerning Elovitch’s business affairs, as well as financial interests of his and of the Bezeq Group, as you instructed the officials subordinate to you to act in abnormal ways.
You acted in a situation of conflict of interest, used governmental powers out of ulterior motives connected with your personal benefit and your family’s benefit, caused the corruption of public servants subject to your authority, and acted improperly
201. You performed all the governmental actions listed below while being aware that the favors that were given to you and to your wife by the Elovitches were given to you for work that was connected to your public role and status, and in order to continue receiving favors from the Elovitches. As part of your actions, you acted in a situation of conflict of interest, used governmental powers out of ulterior motives connected with your personal benefit and your family’s benefit, caused the corruption of public servants subject to your authority, and acted improperly.
202. On an unknown date, during the relevant time period, while Minister Gilad Erdan was serving as minister of communications in your government, between March 2013 and November 2014, you contacted him and asked him whether he was aware of the claims of the Bezeq Group regarding the reform of the wholesale market. During that period, the Ministry of Communications, under Minister Erdan, promoted the implementation of the wholesale market reform in the face of strong opposition from Bezeq.
203. On January 28, 2014, after you and your wife conveyed, throughout the year preceding this date, many demands regarding the coverage of you and your family to the Elovitches, as described above, and in parallel with demands that you conveyed to them on those very days, you signed a permit for the attachment of the controlling shares in Bezeq, which was required for the issuing of bonds of the BCOM company, which was controlled by Elovitch. Your signature on the attachment permit was required under the Communications Law (Telecommunications and Transmissions), 1982. The issuing of the bonds, which was of great financial important to the group of companies that Elovitch controlled, could not take place without it.
204. On May 14, 2014, after a year and a half during which you and your wife had conveyed many demands regarding coverage of yourself and your family to the Elovitches, as described above, and also simultaneously with the demands that you conveyed during that very same time period, you signed approval for the transfer of control of a subsidiary of Walla, which operated the online sales site Yad 2. Signing the approval for the transfer of control enabled completion of the sale of Yad 2 from the Bezeq Group to a German communications corporation in exchange for approximately NIS 800 million, which was paid to the Bezeq Group controlled by Elovitch.
Before you signed the approval for the transfer of control, Elovitch was in contact with you and with your close associates in order to speed up your signature on the required approval. Afterward, Elovitch was in contact with you and with your close associates in order to ensure and speed up the signature of Gilad Erdan, who was minister of communications at that time, which was also required for the approval of the transaction. The accelerated approval of the transaction was of great importance to Elovitch and to the Bezeq Group, since delaying the issuing of the regulatory permit could have caused the German buyer to back down from the deal.
205. On or about November 17, 2014, after the resignation of Gideon Sa’ar, who was minister of the interior at the time, you decided to remove Minister Erdan from his position as minister of communications and appoint him minister of the interior in your government, and you began serving as minister of communications simultaneously with your term as prime minister.
206. You made your decision not to extend Erdan’s term in the Ministry of Communications despite Minister Erdan’s request to remain in the position at least until the completion of the procedures required for accomplishing the wholesale market reform, which would be detrimental to Bezeq and to Elovitch. On dates that fell close together, before making this decision, Hefetz conveyed Elovitch’s complaints to you regarding Erdan’s behavior toward the Bezeq Group, and Elovitch’s objection to the fact that Erdan would continue serving as minister of communications.
207. On November 28, 2014, immediately after the beginning of your term as minister of communications, you met with Elovitch at Elovitch’s request and with Hefetz’s mediation, in the Prime Minister’s Residence. The purpose of the meeting was to acquaint you with Elovitch’s need for the rapid approval of the Bezeq–Yes due to the expiration date of the permit issued by the anti-trust commissioner for the transaction. Before the meeting, Hefetz showed you the anti-trust commissioner’s permit for the transaction, as he had received it from Elovitch, and conveyed to you Elovitch’s request to meet with you in order to discuss the matter. You told your bureau to arrange the meeting with Elovitch regarding the permit for the transaction immediately. Later on, you met privately with Elovitch in your official residence after having told Hefetz to bring Elovitch into your office at the official residence in such a manner that his presence would remain undetected by others who were in the residence at that time.
208. On December 9, 2014, after the date of the dispersal of the Knesset, and during the election season, you appointed attorney Eitan Tzafrir as chief of staff of the Ministry of Communications. As part of his position, Tzafrir acted according to your instructions in his dealings with professional officials of the Ministry of Communications. When Tzafrir began his term, you summoned Avi Berger, the director-general of the Ministry of Communications (hereinafter: “Berger”), to your office, and told him to act in accordance with Tzafrir’s instructions. In the matter of the Bezeq–Yes deal, Berger took the professional position that approval for the deal must be conditional upon the Bezeq Group’s agreement to moving forward with the wholesale market reform. This position upset Elovitch, whose complaints about Berger’s behavior were conveyed to you through Hefetz. In addition, the Elovitches shared their complaints about the Ministry of Communications’s treatment of Bezeq with you and your wife when you had dinner together on January 20, 2015.
209. After Tzafrir was appointed, he contacted Berger several times and told him, on your instructions, to work for the approval of the Bezeq–Yes deal. Despite Tzafrir’s instructions, Berger maintained his professional position that the deal should not be approved without the addition of conditions in accordance with his view, as stated. On your instructions, Tzafrir also contacted Haran Levaot, the deputy director-general for economics at the Ministry of Communications (hereinafter: “Levaot”), who dealt with the professional aspects of the approval for the transaction.
210. In accordance with your instructions, Tzafrir worked together with David Sharan, your bureau chief, to speed up getting the recommendation of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council (hereinafter: “the council”) to approve the Bezeq–Yes deal. According to the condition of the license that was issued to Yes, the council’s recommendation was a required stage before you made your decision to approve the deal. On an unknown date early in 2015, you contacted Sharan and told him to look into why the approval of the Bezeq–Yes deal was being delayed — this in order to speed up the approval for the deal, in accordance with Elovitch’s request. Together with Tzafrir, Sharan contacted the chairwoman of the council to find out how the committee’s recommendation might be obtained more quickly. Once they learned that a letter from you to the council was required in order to obtain the council’s recommendation more quickly, Tzafrir and Sharan worked on writing such a letter, which you signed on March 24, 2015. On receiving the letter from you, the council began looking into the deal in order to form a recommendation.
211. On May 17, 2015, upon the formation of the new government under your leadership, in which you continued to act as minister of communications, you notified Berger of the termination of his employment by telephone. As stated, on this date you knew of the Elovitches’ complaints about Berger, and about Elovitch’s desire that Berger not continue in his position in the ministry because of, among other things, his professional position on the issue of allowing the Bezeq–Yes deal and working for the wholesale market reform — a position that Elovitch disliked. Shortly afterward, you decided to appoint your confidant, Filber, who had no professional knowledge of the field of communications, as director-general of the Ministry of Communications in Berger’s place. Filber’s appointment was approved by the cabinet on June 7, 2015.
212. On an unknown date, very shortly after Filber’s appointment was approved, you summoned Filber for a meeting in your office. When Filber told you during this meeting that Elovitch had complained about the way the Ministry of Communications was handling several issues that had to do with his business dealings, you told Filber to work, within the capacity of his position as director-general of the Ministry of Communications, on these issues to Elovitch’s satisfaction (hereinafter: “the instructional meeting”).
213. During the instructional meeting, you told Filber to get the Bezeq–Yes deal approved as quickly as posslble, in accordance with your knowledge of Elovitch’s need to have the deal approved during the time frame that Elovitch required — by June 23, 2015. You also told Filber to mitigate the price decreases as part of the wholesale market reform. In other words, he was to arrange matters such that the prices that Bezeq could charge for providing access to infrastructure as part of the wholesale market reform would be higher than the ones that had been formulated by the Ministry of Communications in the past, in a way that benefited the Bezeq Group. In addition, during the instructional meeting, you and Filber agreed that whenever complaints were raised in the future regarding Filber’s behavior toward the Bezeq Group, the answer would be that Filber was acting in accordance with the “Kahlon plan” that had been approved by the government. You did this even though the purpose of Filber’s actions, in accordance with your instructions, was not to continue the policy contained in the Kahlon plan, but rather to promote the interests of Elovitch and the Bezeq Group.
214. As a result of the instructional meeting, and immediately thereafter, Filber began working right away to bring about the approval of the Bezeq–Yes deal as quickly as possible. As part of this, Filber met with members of the professional echelon of the Ministry of Communications to promote the issuing of approval for the deal. Until approximately a week before the deal was approved, the members of the professional echelon, Levaot first among them, maintained the position that the approval must be made conditional upon promoting the wholesale market reform. Due to your instructions, Filber exerted a great deal of influence on them, and told them that he intended to change the ministry’s policy regarding the permit — without revealing them to them that he was working to benefit Elovitch in accordance with your instructions and not because of his own professional opinion. As a result of Filber’s position as director-general, the members of the professional echelon withdrew their objections to issuing the permit without conditions.
215. At the same time, and in order to obey your instructions, Filber maintained a secret communications channel with Elovitch and various officials in the Bezeq Group, among them Eli Kamir, who served as a consultant for the Bezeq Group (hereinafter: “Kamir”). As part of this channel, Filber gave the Bezeq officials inside information about the progress of approval for the deal. The Bezeq officials conveyed their demands to Filber regarding the wording of the approval for the deal and insisted, among other things, that the deal be approved with no substantial conditions. Filber acted in accordance with the demands of Bezeq’s officials, even deleting a clause about the Ministry of Communications’s power to take law-enforcement measures against Bezeq as far as taking the option of buying a low percentage of shares in Yes, which Bezeq did at the time without asking for approval. The members of the ministry’s professional echelon, and first among them the ministry’s legal advisor, had felt that this clause was required. Filber concealed the existence of the direct communications channel with the Bezeq officials from the members of the professional echelon at the Ministry of Communications.
216. Filber made it clear to the professional officials of the Ministry of Communications and of the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council that he was working to obtain approval for the Bezeq–Yes deal in accordance with your instructions and your wishes. Among other things, Filber accelerated the process of formulating the council’s recommendation in order to stick to the timetables that Elovitch required.
217. On June 23, 2015, the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council’s recommendation was delivered to you, together with the documents for approving the deal. You signed the approval for the Bezeq–Yes deal that very day, in full awareness that the deal had been moved forward by Filber, on your instructions, so as to benefit Elovitch and in accordance with Elovitch’s expectations.
218. You performed all the aforementioned actions in order to fulfill Elovitch’s desire for rapid approval of the deal with no conditions, in complete opposition to the position that had been held by the professional echelon of the Ministry of Communications for a long time. In exchange for these actions, you received favors that the Elovitches gave you, including their agreement to your egregious demands concerning the coverage of yourself and of your wife, and you acted as you did so that they would continue giving in to your egregious demands concerning coverage of you in the future as well.
219. Very close to the date on which you signed the approval for the Bezeq–Yes deal, the deal was completed, and as a result, the sum of approximately NIS 680 million was transferred from the Bezeq company to the Eurocom Group, which was controlled by Elovitch. Elovitch and Eurocom used these funds to repay the group’s debts to the banks. Later on, in accordance with the conditions of the deal, and as a result of your approval of the deal, Bezeq paid Eurocom additional sums amounting to a total of approximately NIS 300 million in 2016 and 2017.
220. Elovitch was aware that your work to move the Bezeq–Yes deal forward was connected to the favors that you and your family received from the Elovitches. Thus, for example, in January 2015, when the request for approval was awaiting the approval of the Ministry of Communications, and the date required for it, which had been set based on the anti-trust commissioner’s decision, was to expire soon, in March 2015, Elovitch wrote to Yeshua that he had to remove a report that displeased you from Walla, since this would lead to the withholding of the approval of the deal: “Take it down right away. It will prevent the approval of Yes,” and later that day, Yeshua wrote: “The big one is looking for me; it seems he wants an article that says the opposite” (he used the term “big one” as a nickname for you).
221. On your orders, alongside his efforts to promote approval of the Bezeq–Yes deal, and in a similar pattern to that described above, Filber worked, starting with the instructional meeting, to promote Elovitch’s interests in the Ministry of Communications in other contexts as well. Filber acted in this way during his entire term as director-general of the ministry, maintaining — as stated — a secret communications channel with representatives of Bezeq, Kamir first among them. Filber also met with Bezeq officials in their own homes and at other sites outside his office, without the presence of other officials of the Ministry of Communications. Filber hid his connections with Bezeq officials from the ministry’s professional echelon even as he created the false impression of proper governance. Filber’s actions, which stemmed from the general instruction that you gave him in the instructional meeting described above, were an extreme deviation from the behavior that might be expected of the director-general of a government ministry, and reached the point of a grave violation of proper behavior in the ministry’s handling of matters connected with the Bezeq Group.
222. Filber’s actions, which he did in obedience to the general instructions that you gave him during the instructional meeting and which helped Elovitch both in the context of the Bezeq–Yes deal and in the context of the wholesale market reform, included the following topics:
A. In obedience to the orders that you gave him in the instructional meeting, Filber changed the pricing system of the wholesale market reform in the telephony market to a system that Bezeq preferred even though this system had been rejected in the past by the professional officials of the Ministry of Communications. The original system gave companies competing with Bezeq the option of connecting, on their own, to the infrastructure owned by Bezeq (for a fee), and then providing landline telephony services directly to customers. The system that Filber adopted, which Bezeq preferred, did not give Bezeq’s competitors the option of connecting on their own to the infrastructure owned by Bezeq. Instead, Bezeq’s competitors would be able to contact customers directly in order to provide landline telephony services, which would actually be provided by Bezeq itself via the infrastructure that it owned, and the competing company would have to make its own payment arrangements with Bezeq. The system that Filber adopted left Bezeq a foothold in the relationships between its competitors and their customers, with the customers remaining dependent upon Bezeq as far as operations and solving problems related to infrastructure, while the competing companies were substantially limited in their marketing ability.
B. Later on, when a dispute broke out between the Ministry of Communications and Bezeq regarding the pricing system that would be set for the solution adopted by Filber, and also regarding the price that would be set according to this pricing system, Filber agreed with Elovitch that the reform would be postponed for another year, in accordance with Bezeq’s interest in continuing to hold the position of a monopoly on this market.
223. In the spirit of your orders, Filber also worked to delay the implementation of the reciprocity reform, whose purpose was to require Bezeq and Hot to allow reciprocal use of their infrastructure in order to increase competition, after he and Elovitch had agreed to this delay. At a later stage, Filber also worked to convince Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, who had been appointed a minister in the Ministry of Communications following restrictions that had been imposed upon you in this matter, to oppose a legislative initiative that would have moved the reciprocity reform forward.
224. In addition, and in the spirit of your instuctions, Filber worked intensively for the abolition of the structural separation in the Bezeq Group, to Elovitch’s satisfaction. Filber worked toward this in secret, in cooperation with Bezeq officials, contrary to the position of the professional officials in the ministry and without consulting with them or with the ministry’s legal advisor. Filber’s efforts to promote the abolition of the structural separation, in accordance with the Bezeq Group’s interests, reached their peak in late 2016, when, through Filber’s actions, an official letter from the Ministry of Communication, with the subject line “The abolition of the structural separation requirement in the Bezeq Group” was sent to Bezeq on December 22, 2016. In this letter, Filber included imprecise statements and omitted substantial points about the requirement for a hearing before the abolition of the structural separation, which the legal advisor felt was essential to include in the letter, and thus helped Bezeq present misleading information to the public to the effect that the abolition of the structural separation was much more feasible than it actually was. Bezeq’s officials reported the sending of the letter to their investors, and only after the intervention of high-ranking officials in the attorney general’s environment was Filber’s letter amended several days later, with the requirement for a hearing appended to it, and the correction reported to the public. It should be noted that the structural separation was never abolished, and remains in effect to this day.
225. Elovitch knew and understood that Filber’s work and the way in which his actions changed the Communications Ministry’s treatment of Elovitch and the Bezeq Group were directly related to the favors that he gave you by acceding to your egregious demands regarding the coverage of yourself and your family. Throughout this period — in which you dismissed Berger, whose professional position did not accord with Elovitch’s interests, appointed Filber and told him to work for Elovitch’s benefit in the core issues with which the Ministry of Communications dealt in a manner that changed the ministry’s policy during Berger’s tenure, and also after you approved the Bezeq–Yes transaction — Elovitch showed his gratitude for the extraordinary things you had done for him by telling Yeshua to repay you by making every effort to accede to your demands regarding coverage despite the writers’ objections.
226. In July 2015, Elovitch also expressed his frustration to Yeshua over the fact that you were working on his behalf in the Ministry of Communications, while his efforts to repay you were encountering difficulties due to the unwillingness of Walla’s writers to interfere in the website’s content:
Elovitch: What’s annoying is that the great one is turning himself inside-out to help, and we can’t repay him because of a bunch of zeroes.
Yeshua: In the end, we’re all right. It just costs us in blood…. We can do more, but we need to build a completely different editorial board, without Dubik or Avi.
Elovitch: The great one surprises me pleasantly every day with the most important things. We have to find a way to repay him.
Yeshua: Got it. I understand, and I’m committed to it. They won’t manage us… In the end, we’re delivering the goods, but we can do better.
Elovitch: He deserves much more, and we can give it. I don’t like to owe. He’s really OK and is changing the old legacy completely.
227. Filber’s actions, as described above, were carried out, as stated, in accordance with your instructions during the instructional meeting, which took place as soon as his term began, to work to Elovitch’s benefit in the Ministry of Communications. During the period in which Filber served as the director-general of the Ministry of Communications, and worked to promote Elovitch’s interests, you called him several times in order to make sure that he was taking care of Bezeq’s interests in accordance with your instructions. Among other things, during that period, you called Filber in order to reprimand him for not having dismissed Levaot, one of the senior officials in the ministry, who was at the forefront of the ministry’s disagreement with Bezeq regarding the prices of the telephony reform. In addition, in certain instances, Filber brought you up to date regarding his acts in the Ministry of Communications, and also asked you to approve processes that he had worked for whose purpose was to promote Elovitch’s interests. You also told Hefetz to contact Filber to make sure that Filber was working for Elovitch’s benefit, in accordance with your instructions.
The Bribery Offense — Conclusion
228. By your actions as described above, you took the favors listed above in full awareness that you were taking a bribe as a civil servant for activities connected with your position, with the knowledge that the favors listed above were given to you for actions connected with your public positions. In exchange for the favors, you used your authority, taking advantage of your high position, in order to carry out actions that benefited Elovitch significantly while acting improperly.
Fraud and Breach of Trust
The Connections between You and the Elovitches and the Resulting Conflict of Interest
229. Your relationship with Elovitch during the relevant time period, during which you served, as stated, as prime minister and for some of it as minister of communications as well, solidified several essential connections between you and Elovitch. These connections placed you in a situation of conflict of interest while you dealt with the interests of Elovitch and of the Bezeq Group.
230. As stated above, an unusual relationship developed between you and your wife on the one hand and the Elovitches on the other. This relationship took the form of a systematic and ongoing pattern of conveying intensive demands regarding coverage from you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, and giving gifts in the form of egregious obedience to these demands by the Elovitches. This relationship created an essential connection between you and the Elovitches that differed greatly from a normal relationship between one who was subject to supervision and one with governmental power.
231. This relationship placed you in a severe conflict of interest with the Elovitches, since on the one hand, due to your public role, you had the power to make decisions regarding the Elovitches’ interests, and Elovitch was dependent upon you to promote his business interests and those of the Bezeq Group; and on the other, you and your wife demanded, directly and through intermediaries, of him and from his wife, Iris Elovitch, that they bias the coverage on the Walla website in accordance with your personal, public, and political needs, while you were aware that the Elovitches were acceding to your demands in an irregular manner considering your position and your public role, and so that you would work to promote their interests on the strength of your governmental roles.
232. In addition to this substantial connection, a personal relationship existed between you and your wife and the Elovitches that went beyond an ordinary acquaintanceship. As part of this personal relationship, you met with Elovitch privately and spoke with him by telephone several times. The meetings and conversations between you and Elovitch were dedicated, among other things, to discussing the way in which you, your wife Sara Netanyahu, and members of your family were covered on the Walla website, and discussions about regulatory subjects that were important to Elovitch and that lay within your governmental authority. Elovitch also conveyed messages and requests to you about topics that lay within your governmental authority, as listed above, through intermediaries.
233. In at least two other instances, you and your wife, Sara Netanyahu, hosted the Elovitches for dinner in the official residence on Balfour Street. Your wife and Iris Elovitch also spoke by telephone and corresponded about the way the Netanyahus were covered on Walla.
234. In addition, on at least three occasions, you initiated various attempts to mediate between your close associates and Elovitch to have them purchase the Walla site from him. This despite Elovitch’s reluctance to sell the site.
235. The substantial connection that was formed between you and your wife on the one hand, and the Elovitches on the other, regarding the coverage, on its own and certainly in addition to the other connections that are described above, placed you in a severe conflict of interest with the Elovitches.
Governmental Activities that Were Carried Out in a Severe Conflict of Interest
236. Although you were aware of these connections and the conflict of interest that was created because of them, you acted, throughout your term as prime minister and minister of communications, in the interests of Bezeq and Elovitch, sometimes even deviating from proper behavior, to the significant benefit of the Elovitches and of Bezeq. Your actions, which are detailed at length in the above section regarding the favors you received in exchange, reached their peak in the actions that you took to promote Elovitch’s interests, among them via Tzafrir, Sharan, and Filber, all of them public servants. These actions of yours to approve the Bezeq–Yes deal yielded Elovitch a profit of approximately one billion shekels, while you worked to accomplish this by acting with severe impropriety.
237. Another grave aspect of your behavior and your actions described above stems from your high governmental position, the character of the governmental actions that you took, the fact that some of your actions constituted a deviation from proper behavior, the fact that you used an extremely senior public servant (Filber) to promote Elovitch’s goals and he, in turn, caused the professional officials subordinate to him to give up their earlier professional stance without having known of the order to benefit Elovitch and the force of your conflict of interest when you committed these acts.
238. These acts of yours contained other severe aspects that include the following: the enormous financial value that your actions yielded Elovitch; the fact that you concealed the abnormal relationship with the Elovitches, as will be described below; the broad implications that your regulatory actions had upon the communications field; and the fact that the actions that you committed acted with severe impropriety.
Concealment of the Abnormal Relationship with the Elovitches
239. During the relevant time period, you concealed the array of connections between yourself and the Elovitches, in a methodical and consistent manner, from a series of officials, including the attorney general and his representatives, the state comptroller and his representatives, and the legal advisor of the Prime Minister’s Office. During this period, you also provided partial, misleading, and sometimes false information information about the nature of your relationship with Elovitch to these officials.
240. On May 17, 2015, after the elections and while you were already serving as communications minister, the state comptroller sent you a letter stating the obligations of ministers regarding disclosing relationships and preventing conflicts of interest, together with a questionnaire whose purpose was to locate suspected conflicts of interest, which you were asked to fill out. You avoided filling out this questionnaire for many months.
241. On May 28, 2015, the state comptroller contacted you again, stating that complaints that he had received contained claims of your conflict of interest in the communications field in general, and particularly in relation to the Bezeq Group and a suspicion of your preferential treatment of Elovitch. The state comptroller asked for your comment on this topic, adding that if you had any additional connections that pertained to your position as communications minister, you were required to disclose them.
242. The answer to the questionnaire was sent by Shimron to the state comptroller only on November 23, 2015, approximately six months after it had been sent to you. In your answers, you referred to your relationship with Shimron and his partner, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, and only to them, concealing the abnormal relationship between you and the Elovitches and all the connections that existed between you. In your answer to the state comptroller’s questions, you also concealed the fact that despite these substantial connections, you dealt with the matters of Bezeq and of Elovitch, acting in order to promote their interests in the Ministry of Communications, while deviating from proper behavior and bringing professional officials on board, in an improper manner, to promote these interests.
243. In addition, also as part of your contacts with representatives of the attorney general who were in charge of this field (hereinafter: “the attorney general”) in order to draft a conflict of interest arrangement in your business matters in the communications fields, you concealed the information about the relationship between you and Elovitch and the connections that existed between you even though these connections and the conflict of interest that resulted from them were known to you and were quite relevant to the conflict-of-interest arrangement that was being drafted.
244. On October 27, 2015, Mr. Yehuda Weinstein, the attorney general at the time, sent you a conflict-of-interest agreement that dealt with your relationship with the Shimron-Molcho law firm and subjects that you were not supposed to deal with due to your relationship with them. This conflict-of-interest agreement made no mention of the relationship between you and Elovitch and the connections that existed between you even though you were aware of these connections and the conflict of interest that stemmed from them.
245. On October 29, 2015, Haaretz published an exposé about your relationship with Elovitch and the connection between you and Elovitch’s and Bezeq’s interests in the Ministry of Communications. Following its publication, Knesset members contacted the attorney general.
246. As part of this, representatives of the attorney general contacted Shlomit Barnea-Farago, the attorney general of the Prime Minister’s Office (hereinafter: “Barnea-Farago”) on November 2, 2015, demanding information and explanations about your relationship with Elovitch in order to examine possible conflicts of interest in your role as minister of communications. The letter made clear that you were being asked to comment on your “personal or other” connections with Elovitch, and the exposé and the complaints mentioned above were attached to it.
247. In a reply that Barnea-Farago sent to representatives of the attorney general on December 9, 2015, with your approval and in your name, you revealed, for the first time, the fact that you had been friends with Elovitch for twenty years. This revelation was forced upon you in light of the press reports on the matter and in light of the specific letter that the representative of the attorney sent to you about your relationship with Elovitch. At the same time, you stated that your decisions regarding the Bezeq company had been made in accordance with recommendations and instructions of the ministry’s professional echelon.
248. On February 23, 2016, a representative of the attorney general sent another letter to Barnea-Farago in order to clarify the nature of your relationship with Elovitch. Following this letter, Barnea-Farago met with you, and based on the information that you gave her, Barnea-Farago sent on March 13, 2016, with your knowledge and approval, an additional reply to the letter from the attorney general’s representatives.
249. The above-mentioned replies, which were conveyed via Barnea-Farago to the attorney general’s representatives, stated only that you had had a friendship with Elovitch for twenty years, that you met with a frequency of once every several months for meetings of a social character, and that the conversation that took place between you and Elovitch was about current affairs. You also said that your decisions in the matters relating to the Bezeq company had been made in accordance with recommendations and instructions from the professional echelons of the ministry.
250. These answers, which were approved by you and sent in your name to the attorney general’s representatives, were a partial, false, and misleading reply to the questions that they put to you. First, even at this stage, you continued to conceal from Barnea-Farago and from the attorney general’s representatives the fact that an abnormal relationship existed between you and Elovitch regarding coverage, and your ongoing involvement in talks for the acquisition of Walla from him. Second, in contradiction to the information that you provided and as detailed above, the decisions that you made within the framework of your role as communications minister were, at least in part, your own decisions, which stemmed from your wish to benefit Elovitch, and not from the positions of the professional officials in the Ministry of Communications. In addition, your reply that the conversation you had with Elovitch was about “current affairs” was also misleading, since the conversations between you and Elovitch dealt with the manner of your coverage and that of your family on Walla, your demands to skew the coverage on Walla, and other subjects having to do with the Bezeq Group and that lay within the purview of your governmental authority.
251. Your reply that you met with Elovitch once every few months to a year in social circumstances did not reflect properly the frequency and intensity of the meetings or the character of the relationship between you and Elovitch. Among other things, you did not reveal the existence of many telephone calls that took place between you and Elovitch, nor did you reveal that the meetings between you were more frequent than you had stated.
You acted in a biased manner and placed yourself in a severe conflict of interest between your public positions and your private affairs, broke the rules that applied to you as a public servant, and committed acts of breach of trust that cause substantial damage to the proper behavior of the administration, the integrity of public servants, and the public’s trust in public servants
252. On May 18, 2016, as part of the process of drafting a conflict-of-interest agreement led by representatives of the attorney general, your agent, Shimron, gave the the attorney general’s representatives a professional legal opinion entitled “Professional Legal Opinion on Conflicts of Interest of a Minister Who Discusses a Subject Having to Do with an Acquaintance.” Even before the professional legal opinion was prepared, you concealed from your agent the totality of the connections that existed between you and Elovitch, nor did you reveal to him the array of coverage-related demands and the obedience to them. Based on this factual platform, from which information was missing, Shimron expressed his opinion that you could continue dealing with Elovitch’s affairs.
253. Only several months later, on November 7, 2016, a response was submitted on your behalf to a petition based on the Freedom of Information Law that asked you to reveal the dates of your meetings with Elovitch. As part of the response, you signed a statement prepared according to law that a “friendship of many years” had existed between you and Elovitch for two decades, and that this friendship “was maintained by periodic meetings attended by the prime minister, Elovitch, their wives, and others.” This statement contradicted the presentations that you showed to all the officials who dealt with the issue of your conflict of interest with Elovitch, including your agent, which also contained an omission since it did not reveal the intensive connection between you and your family and Elovitch regarding coverage on the Walla website.
254. On June 14, 2016, based on the partial and misleading information that you provided in your answers to the official authorities, the deputy attorney general (public-administrative law) drafted your final conflict-of-interest agreement in your position as communications minister.
Fraud and Breach of Trust — Conclusion
255. In committing the actions detailed above, you acted in a biased manner and placed yourself in a severe conflict of interest between your public positions and your private affairs, broke the rules that applied to you as a public servant, and committed acts of breach of trust that cause substantial damage to the proper behavior of the administration, the integrity of public servants, and the public’s trust in public servants.
256. In addition, you kept substantial information about the true nature of your relationship with Elovitch from the authorized officials, gave them partial information about this relationship, and also presented them with false information about your relationship with Elovitch. By doing so, you committed acts of fraud and breach of trust that cause substantial damage to the proper behavior of the administration, the integrity of public servants, and the public’s trust in public servants.
257. Due to the acts listed here, I am considering prosecuting you for taking bribes — an offense according to Section 290 of the Criminal Law; and for fraud and breach of trust, a crime according to Section 284 of the Criminal Law.
[Signature] Avichai Mandelblit