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 Israhell media: Netanyahu tried to negotiate for good press

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PostSubject: Israhell media: Netanyahu tried to negotiate for good press   Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:41 pm

JERUSALEM —  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was recorded trying to negotiate a deal for more positive newspaper coverage two years ago, the Haaretz reported Sunday about the latest criminal investigation involving Israel's leader.

The tape recording, if it contains the facts published by Israeli media, expose a surprising sequence of events in which Netanyahu met with Arnon Mozes, publisher of the Yediot Ahronot newspaper that the prime minister has long reviled as part of a media conspiracy determined to oust him from office.
The conversation apparently turned around a mutually beneficial deal that would limit circulation of that paper's top competitor, the free daily Israel Hayom, which is owned by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a longtime Netanyahu supporter who backed President-elect Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
Adelson's Israel Hayom is widely considered to be a Netanyahu mouthpiece. Adelson also owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which endorsed Trump for president.
In exchange for suppressing the Adelson-owned tabloid, Mozes was to make Yediot Ahronot's coverage more favorable to Netanyahu. The proposal never materialized, according to media reports.
Netanyahu's office had no comment about the latest revelation, a stark departure from its usual immediate response to any accusations.
But Netanyahu has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and told ministers from his Likud Party again on Sunday that “there will be nothing, because there is nothing.”
Still, Razi Barkai, a top radio news host, opened his Sunday morning program with reports about the recording and said, “Well, we may finally have something here.”
Netanyahu  was questioned by police twice last week about two cases. The first  involves allegations of graft. The second appears to be the newspaper matter revealed Sunday.
Also on Sunday,  Channel 2 TV reported that the Netanyahu-Mozes conversation in 2014 was recorded at the prime minister's request by his then-chief of staff, Ari Harrow.
In addition, Channel 10 TV said Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan had supplied Netanyahu with expensive cigars, champagne and gourmet meals.
Neither the Israeli attorney general, who ordered a criminal investigation, nor the police, which is conducting the probe, commented on Sunday's revelations.
News about the taped conversation monopolized the airwaves in Israel until midday when a terror attack in Jerusalem left four soldiers dead and shut down all talk of politics.
On Friday, the day after Netanyahu’s last interrogation by police, his attorney, Yaakov Weinroth, denied any concerns regarding possibly unsavory dealings. “Any reasonable person knows that there is nothing remotely criminal involved when a close friend gives his friend a gift of cigars,” he said.
In a long public career, Netanyahu and his wife Sara have faced a wide range of allegations, including misuse of state funds, stealing public property and high housekeeping expenses. In February, a Labor Court found Sara Netanyahu guilty of abusing household staff, who are public employees, and the state was ordered to pay damages to the workers who sued and won.
Seasoned observers say they have seen Netanyahu survive years of accusations.
"There are ongoing investigations on several issues,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York and longtime observer of Jerusalem power struggles. “While too early to seriously assess potential damage, there seems to be a critical mass forming against Mr. Netanyahu.”
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