JERUSALEM (JTA) – The main corruption case against Benjamin Netanyahu involves a taped conversation of the Israeli prime minister said to be offering benefits to a businessman in exchange for his political support.
The businessman on Sunday was revealed by Israel Channel 2 news to be Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. Accusations of a quid-pro-quo discussion between the two men, who are said to have a terrible rivalry, are backed up by the tape, Haaretz reported Sunday.
Netanyahu has been questioned twice over the case in the past week. Mozes reportedly has been questioned as well.
Haaretz reported that the tape helps confirm the two men struck a deal according to which Netanyahu would use his influence to convince American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to either close his pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom or at least cancel its weekend edition. Less competition from Israel Hayom, a free tabloid, would help Yedioth Ahronoth.
In exchange, according to reports, Yedioth Ahronoth would drop an investigative report on Netanyahu’s son, Yair.
Netanyahu’s office has not commented on the reports, but the prime minister said at the weekly Cabinet meeting: “Now that I know what is being investigated I can tell you with certainty: There will be nothing because there is nothing.” He has repeated the phrase since news of the investigations broke two weeks ago.
Israeli television reported Saturday night that Netanyahu asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry three times in 2014 to intervene to reinstate a long-term visa to the United States for film producer Arnon Milchan. The visa was reportedly secured and Milchan provided many expensive gifts to the Netanyahus, such as cigars and pink champagne.