"Yediot Aharonot" publisher at center of Netanyahu affair

Recording publicized this morning contains conversation between Netanyahu and businessman Noni Mozes, "Yediot Aharonot" publisher.

Mordechai Sones,

Noni Mozes
Noni Mozes
Roni Schutzer/Flash90

Allegedly, new information about the conversation at the center of the "2000 Affair" involving Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the existence of which was revealed this morning (Sunday) by the newspaper Haaretz, was reported a short time ago on Channel 2.

According to the report, the said recording contains a conversation between the Prime Minister and businessman Arnon (Noni) Mozes, publisher of the newspaper Yediot Aharonot.

It is not clear exactly when the call was recorded or what is said in it, but at the center of the conversation was the newspaper Yisrael Hayom, a daily freebie which has severely cut into the revenues of Yedioth Ahronoth. Circumstantial evidence places the alleged conversation sometime at the beginning of Netanyahu's second term, in 2009.

According to the Maariv newspaper, anti-Netanyahu broadcaster Amnon Abramovich said that "on the eve of the 2009 elections he [Netanyahu] was sitting with an acquaintance and asked him 'Do you have influence on Noni Mozes? Find out whether if I close the newspaper [Yisrael Hayom], it would change the relationship with him."

The recorded conversation was supposed to yield the Yediot publisher a significant financial advantage, and in return Mozes was to change the rejectionist line that Mozes' newspaper led against the Prime Minister. Yisrael Hayom is pro-Netanyahu and funded by Sheldon Adelson, a good friend of the prime minister, and is largely felt to have begun publication to counter the anti-Netanyahu stance of Yediot.

Maariv conjectures that perhaps Moses and Netanyahu discussed payment for the paper's closure, which was expected to generate significant amounts for Moses. In return, Yediot Ahronot was supposed to change its policy towards the Prime Minister, they surmise. Channel 2 news conjectured that in the case of an indictment, Moses would be a witness for the prosecution and Netanyahu would be the defendant.

Police and prosecution believe that the conversation contains criminal elements, but the State Attorney and the Attorney General are not sure.

At a meeting of Likud ministers this morning the Prime Minister discussed Haaretz's reports according to which he was confronted during his second interrogation with sound recordings in which he speaks with the businessman: "Unfortunately I cannot give details. What I can tell you today is that I know what is being discussed, and I tell you this with confidence: there will be nothing because there is nothing," said Netanyahu.

"What we have here is unacceptable and constant pressure from the media on law enforcement officials. They fly balloons that lose their hot air one by one. That's what will happen in this case. I suggest to my colleagues in the opposition - do not celebrate because there is nothing to celebrate. The way to change the government is by means of the ballot box," the prime minister stressed.




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