Report: Netanyahu and newspaper owner offered to trade favors

The publisher of a prominent  Israeli newspaper is embroiled in an alleged bribery scandal with Netanyahu. 

Israeli media is reporting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yediot Aharonoth publisher Noni Mozes made a pact in which Netanyahu proposed to use his power to curb Yedioth’s main rival through law in return for Yedioth’s favorable coverage of Netanyahu’s Likud government.

Wednesday’s reports add details to a spiraling scandal in which Netanyahu had already been questioned twice by police over receiving alleged gifts from high-powered Hollywood and business figures.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing and calls the allegations a hostile media’s witch hunt against him and his family.

Haaretz reported that Mozes suggested he’d tone down the paper’s criticism in return for limiting the distribution of its main competitor, Israel Hayom, financed by Jewish-American billionaire and Netanyahu backer Sheldon Adelson.

Israel Hayom‘s coverage is very favorable of Netanyahu.

Mozes, who was reportedly questioned by police in connection with the alleged pact, has so far made no comment.

Netanyahu and Mozes are considered arch rivals. If such a pact had in fact been made, it likely would have consisted of a form of bribery. However, the alleged deal never took off.

Reports on the alleged agreement have inflamed the public, which had already lost trust in what they consider to be Israel’s biased and highly opinionated Israeli media.

Several public figures have offered to testify that Mozes has used his paper as a weapon to gain leverage or sway public opinion.

Member of Knesset Mickey Rosenthal (Labor), a former reporter who worked for Mozes, wrote on his Facebook page that the Yedioth publisher had used his paper to settle scores.

Political strategist Lior Chorev told IDF Radio on Tuesday that Mozes had warned the Zionist Union political party, during the 2015 election campaign, not to attack Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid .

“Only Kulanu [party], led by Moshe Kahlon, attacked Yesh Atid for several weeks, and no one knew why,” Chorev recalled. “The Zionist Union was expected to attack it as well, but they received orders [from Yedioth] not to do so,” he said.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff