Two key suspects in a graft probe against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were questioned under caution on Thursday at the headquarters of the Israel Police’s anti-corruption unit.
Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Arnon Mozes and Zionist Union MK Eitan Cabel reportedly were asked to respond to new information given to police by a former top Netanyahu adviser, Nir Hefetz, who has turned state’s witness in the case.
Case 2000 involves suspicions that Netanyahu and Mozes plotted together in 2014 to advance legislation that would have hobbled Yedioth’s main business rival, the right-wing freebie Israel Hayom, in exchange for more positive coverage of Netanyahu in Mozes’s newspaper.
In a separate investigation of another former Netanyahu aide, Ari Harow, police unearthed recordings of conversations between Netanyahu and Mozes in which the two spoke explicitly about such a deal. Both men now say the conversation was theoretical, and neither acted on it.
Cabel, who drafted the law that would have required Israeli newspapers to charge minimum fees, thus forcing Israel Hayom to abandon its freebie model, is also a suspect in the case.
Cabel and Mozes both faced questioning at the Lod headquarters of the Lahav 433 anti-corruption investigative unit.
Shortly after the questioning, Cabel insisted in an Army Radio interview Thursday morning that he did nothing wrong.
“I have no idea why I’m being investigated. I acted professionally and honestly” when advancing the Israel Hayom bill, he insisted. “Everything I did was for purely parliamentary reasons.”
He said investigators asked him on Thursday whether either Netanyahu or Mozes had asked him to advance the bill.
He suggested that he, as an opposition lawmaker, was being questioned to make the investigation look apolitical.
“I hope there isn’t an invisible hand here that’s trying to create ‘balance’ in the case. I know where I stand. My hands are clean.”