Netanyahu and Herzog
Netanyahu and Herzog Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman Yitzhak Herzog on Monday contacted Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit through his lawyer, demanding that Mandelblit remove Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from his post as Communications Minister.

The reason for Herzog’s demand is that “recent publications in his case demonstrate that he has a definite interest and a direct connection to the Israel Hayom newspaper, which is distributed free of charge in the largest circulation in Israel.”

In the letter, Herzog announced that if Netanyahu is not removed from his post as Communications Minister, the Zionist Union will appeal to the Supreme Court on the matter within 48 hours.

The letter comes following Sunday’s publication in Israeli media that police had obtained an audio recording of a conversation between Netanyahu and businessman Arnon (Noni) Mozes, publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Israel Hayom’s main competitor.

In that recording, Netanyahu and Mozes allegedly discussed a deal whereby Yedioth would receive a significant financial advantage, and in return Mozes would change the rejectionist line that his newspaper has led against the Prime Minister.

The deal may have possibly involved shutting down parts of Israel Hayom, which is owned by American-Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a close associate of Netanyahu’s.

In response to Herzog’s letter, the Likud party said on Monday evening, "Buji Herzog has some nerve demanding the dismissal of the Prime Minister from the post of Communications Minister, when his associate Eitan Cabel promoted and initiated the law to close Israel Hayom in order to gain sympathetic coverage from Yedioth Ahronoth and Ynet, and when his partner Tzipi Livni obtained an expert legal opinion funded by Yedioth Ahronoth and acknowledged speaking with Noni Mozes before promoting the Israel Hayom law before the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.”