Sunday, January 8, 2017

Bibi B-busted B-big Time

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu is in quite a bit of trouble after leaked recordings showing that he planned to strike a deal to help an Israeli newspaper by freezing out access to a rival publication.

Media tycoon Arnon Mozes is the businessman who negotiated a quid pro quo with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in conversations caught on tape that came to light on Sunday.

Haaretz reported Sunday that suspicions in the main corruption affair involving Netanyahu are backed by recordings documenting contacts between him and a businessman over mutual benefits.

According to Channel 2, several months ago Netanyahu offered Mozes, publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, a deal that would limit the circulation of the free daily Israel Hayom, Yedioth's top competitor and widely regarded as the prime minister's mouthpiece. In return, Mozes would make Yedioth's coverage more sympathetic to Netanyahu.

Israel Hayom, now Israel's largest newspaper, is owned and published by U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a close confidant of the prime minister.

Mozes was questioned in the case last week and released under certain conditions.

Channel 10 reported that the negotiations were an effort by Netanyahu to prevent Yedioth Ahronoth from publishing a story about his son Yair. The conversations were apparently recorded by Mozes, whose financial benefit from such a deal would be significant.

The taped conversations were brought to the attention of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit months ago. Mendelblit and State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan believed that while the affair had far-reaching ramifications politically, its legal status was unclear, Channel 2 reported.

In August, Netanyahu said he was considering promoting a bill that would bar recordings of conversations without consent from all the parties involved.

So now we know what the bribery and fraud investigation rumors from last month about Netanyahu involved: a cover-up to protect his son and to get better press.

We'll see where this goes, but I'm betting Bibi is in trouble here.

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