At the end of the testimony of Amit Eshel, former head of the “Walla!” And the fourth witness in the Netanyahu trial, another chapter in the trial ended yesterday (Monday). In fact, if you compare the Netanyahu trial to a thick book, you can see the testimony of the first witness, former site CEO Ilan Yeshua, as the first chapter – and the three witnesses that followed as the second chapter. And descends hierarchically.
The importance of the testimony of Aviram Elad, Michal Klein and Amit Eshel was of common importance. The 4000 case will not rise and fall on each testimony individually, but what the prosecution has tried to show is that they all paint a similar picture – an unusual intervention in favor of the former prime minister on the news site.
For example, the editor of “Walla!” Former Aviram Elad: “The intervention in the Netanyahu family issue bothered me a lot, it damaged my ability to do the job – and in the end it also led to my resignation from ‘Walla!'”. On another occasion he added: “We expressed resentment, we did not understand why salvation intervenes for us because it is not his job. There have been several times it has been said that not following the instructions will lead to the destruction of society (Bezeq).”
Former news editor Michal Klein noted that Yeshua made it clear in real time that he too was under pressure: “Ilan would say ‘you know it makes me sick, that it’s very hard for me’, ‘we are all in the same boat’, statements of this kind. “This, perhaps, to harness us, as a step to calm the objections. These are almost daily events. Most of my conversation with Ilan Yeshua dealt with this – messages, telephone calls, calls in the office, almost every day.”
“I was surprised to hear that it’s so neat,” said Amit Eshel, a former desk manager at the site. “It came after a period when there were filters on certain items. I realized that there are sensitive issues concerning the Netanyahu family and their reporting should be monitored more closely. It is not possible to report freely, it passes a filter outside the cycle of the news system.”
Lines of defense
Defense attorneys stood out in the cross-examination of witnesses “Walla!” The fact that everything they knew about the motives for the coverage requests in Netanyahu’s favor was mediated by salvation. “All I heard was from Ilan Yeshua,” Elad testified in the cross-examination. Advocate Boaz Ben-Zur, the prime minister’s defense attorney, asked: “If salvation tells you wrong, or extreme things. You do not know, do you? “Elad replied:” True. “In this, the defense attorneys will claim that this is hearsay evidence.
Another allegation raised by the defense was that there was a mismatch between what was written in the indictment and what the witnesses described. For example, defense attorneys focused on intervening in Netanyahu’s favor over the coverage of the 2012 poverty report, which was published several months before the date on which, according to the prosecution, the bribery deal between Netanyahu and the Elowitz couple was made.
Another line drawn further from Ilan Yeshua’s testimony was the interventions in favor of other politicians. The defense showed the witnesses how salvation demands were conveyed to them regarding the coverage of various factors. In some cases, the witnesses stated that this was indeed an improper intervention, but they claimed that these cases were nothing compared to the intervention in Netanyahu’s favor, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Defense attorneys also tried to show that these witnesses often attacked Netanyahu and his family. They posted tweets that Klein re-tweeted on her Twitter account, as well as things Eshel wrote on social media. In one of the examples presented in court, Eshel wrote in 2020: “There is a special section in hell for Yair Netanyahu and his ilk. Dana, be strong and take care of yourself.” Eshel responded in her testimony: “It was about what Yair Netanyahu did to Dana when he had enough and linked him to Bnei Gantz. It is an act of despair, so despicable that it has a special place in hell. What has that got to do with what I did at Walla?”
Chapter Three: The Introduction to Regulation
Today, the third chapter of the evidentiary phase of the Netanyahu trial will begin – the first witnesses on the issue of regulation. Like any bribery case, the 4000 case also consists of two parts – give and return, give and take. Now that four witnesses have come up on the subject of coverage, the prosecution will move on to three witnesses on the subject of regulation – the consideration alleged in the indictment.
The fifth witness in the 4000 case, former Director General of the Ministry of Communications Avi Berger, will begin his testimony today. He is expected to testify for a week or two. He will be followed by Dror Strum and Felix Cohen, whose testimonies are expected to be shorter than Berger’s.
These three witnesses will provide a first glimpse into what is happening in the 4000 case on the regulatory issue, but it is still only a taste. Later in the evidentiary phase, the CEO who replaced Berger – State Witness Shlomo Pilber, as well as the former legal adviser to the Ministry of Communications, Adv. Dana Neufeld, will also testify.
Berger is a very significant witness in many points on the regulatory issue. At the same time, these three witnesses will not yet be able to provide an answer to the most important question in the 4000 case – the connection between the consideration and the gift. Without binding between the coverage and the regulation there is no bribery offense. The cover is reflected in some sense in some of the recordings and correspondence provided by Salvation, but to prove that there was indeed a clear connection between the coverage and the government actions we will need to hear witnesses who were in the know, such as Hefetz and Pilber.
Netanyahu himself was granted an exemption from appearing in the testimony of the three next regulatory witnesses, but it is very possible that he will be required to attend hearings in the next testimony – of the first state witness, his former media adviser Nir Hefetz. The testimony of an object is expected to last longer and be spread over several months.