Major Israeli media companies in crosshairs as justice ministry mulls charging them in Netanyahu cases

General view of the Bezeq Satellite Station in the Haella Valley (Flash90/Nati Shohat)

If the prime minister is being indicted for giving bribes, then those allegedly receiving them could be charged as well.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel’s justice ministry is considering whether to criminally charge the three media companies that are involved in the corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel Hayom reported Tuesday.

The head of Yedioth Ahronot, Arnon Mozes, and Walla! news portal owner and former chairman of Bezeq Shaul Elovitch, are personally implicated in the charge sheets against Netanyahu.

In Case 2000, Yediot owner Mozes stood to gain indirectly by allegedly negotiating with Netanyahu to push forward a law that would force his paper’s main rival, Israel Hayom, to charge for their broadsheet. He was caught on tape discussing the issue with the prime minister.

Case 4000 charges that Elovitch personally gained hundreds of millions of shekels when government regulations were changed which allowed Bezeq to buy satellite cable provider Yes.

In both cases, Netanyahu allegedly obtained more positive press coverage in return.

However, the companies themselves either allegedly stood to profit or actually did profit greatly according to the indictments, and the law states that in such a case, the corporations must also face justice.

When Israel Hayom queried the justice ministry if Yediot Ahronot, Walla! and Bezeq would be prosecuted, the ministry answered that “a decision has yet been made in the matter.”

As it stands now, the indictment against Netanyahu does not mention the three media companies. Israel Hayom was the first to report that lawyer Michael Dvorin, a political-strategic adviser for the Likud, had sent a letter to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit demanding that they be prosecuted as well.

Dvorin’s take on the cases against Netanyahu is that the law is not being equally applied to all politicians and the prime minister is being held to a higher, unfair standard.

In an interview with Globes in October, he gave several examples of MKs who were never investigated for similar actions, let alone indicted.

He began filing official complaints but “everyone in the law enforcement system ignored the evidence, the documents and the documentation.”

If his complaint bears fruit this time, the media companies could face millions, or even tens of millions of shekels in fines, Israel Hayom reported.

Batya Jerenberg: