Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Czer, Feb 7, 2018.
did they indict him yet
The head of the court is ultra right wing
Here's a good comparison mentally for Israel and the US.
If Trump supporters made up 60 percent of the vote, you would be in Israel. The majority of Israeli's support extremism.
The honest to truth answer for most people in the east is, Israel has to be broken.
Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to publish his decision this week on whether to file charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mendelblit hopes to release the decision before the end of the week, about 40 days prior to the April 9 election, but it may be delayed to the beginning of next week.
The attorney general is expected to announce the indictment of Netanyahu on the basis of accepting bribes in Case 4000, alleging Netanyahu made decisions benefiting Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq, Israel's largest telecommunications firm, in exchange for positive coverage in Elovitch's website, Walla News.
Netanyahu is also expected to be indicted for fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000, in which he is accused of accepting lavish gifts from Israeli-American entertainment magnate Arnon Milchan.
Mendelblit has yet to determine whether to also try Netanyahu in Case 2000, involving suspected bribes from Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Noni Mozes. Mozes and Netanyahu were recorded by former Netanyahu aide Ari Harow for discussing a deal in which critical coverage of Netanyahu would be reduced in Mozes' newspaper in exchange for limiting rival newspaper Israel Hayom.
Meanwhile, a state-comptroller panel examining possible conflicts of interest among ministers denied on Sunday once more Netanyahu's request to receive $2-million funding to cover legal fees from two tycoons, his cousin Nathan Milikowsky and American businessman Spencer Partrich. In addition, the panel ordered Netanyahu to return $300,000 already provided by Milikowsky.
Last week, Mendelblit convened meetings with Israel's State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and Tel Aviv District Attorney for Taxation and Economics Liat Ben Ari, who recommend indicting the prime minister in Case 2000 as well. Mendelblit has yet to reveal his position in these meetings, and is still unclear on his intentions to file charges.
In the event that Mendelblit will close Case 2000, he will issue a detailed explanation for his decision, and will also publish the state prosecutor's position on the matter. It is thus far unclear on which rationale Mendelblit would decide to close the case, as none of the legal reasons (lack of evidence, lack of blame, or lack of public interest) are at play.
In addition, Mendelblit would be pressured to explain why he canceled Harow's decision to turn state's evidence. According to the arrangement, in compensation for the information Harow provided, Harow will plead guilty to breach of trust for selling a fictitious consulting company to circumvent conflict-of-interest regulations. He will also carry out six months of community service in addition to paying a 700 thousand shekels (193,800 dollars) fine.
Either way, closing Case 2000 against Netanyahu doesn't necessarily mean closing the case against Mozes. The attorney general is expected to close Sara Netanyahu's case in Case 4000.
The decision is expected to be published on Thursday. On Wednesday, Netanyahu will be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Mendelblit will probably emphasize in his announcement to the public that his decision is not final, as to avoid claims that he is hurting or influencing the outcome of the elections. In meetings conducted by Mendelblit, he has consulted with upwards of 20 senior legal officials who have taken a deep dive into the evidence of the cases. Investigations have carried on for about three years. Mendelblit rejected Netanyahu's lawyers' requests to delay publicizing the decision until after the elections, on the grounds of "the principal of equality in the eyes of the law and the public's right to know about important legal decisions such as these."
There is no preventing the announcement of intentions to indict a public figure pending a hearing, even if the hearing itself will take place after the election, Mendelblit wrote in his decision. "Not a small number of charges have been filed against elected officials before elections over the years, most of which have been before local elections that have taken place fairly recently."
As an example, he used the case of then-Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, who publicized his intentions to file charges against Tzachi Hanegbi on Election Night of 2006. Hanegbi's hearing took place only after.
Rahm and Ari Emannuels father also belonged to Irgun aka Etzel/Itzel
The Irgun (Hebrew: ארגון; full title: הארגון הצבאי הלאומי בארץ ישראל Hā-ʾIrgun Ha-Tzvaʾī Ha-Leūmī b-Ērētz Yiśrāʾel, lit. "The National Military Organization in the Land of Israel") was a Zionist paramilitary organization that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the older and larger Jewish paramilitary organization Haganah(Hebrew: הגנה, Defence). When the group broke from the Haganah it became known as the Haganah Bet (Hebrew: literally "Defense 'B' " or "Second Defense", הגנה ב), or alternatively as haHaganah haLeumit (ההגנה הלאומית) or Hama'amad (המעמד). Irgun members were absorbed into the Israel Defense Forces at the start of the 1948 Arab–Israeli war. The Irgun is also referred to as Etzel (אצ"ל), an acronym of the Hebrew initials, or by the abbreviation IZL.
The Irgun policy was based on what was then called Revisionist Zionism founded by Ze'ev Jabotinsky. According to Howard Sachar, "The policy of the new organization was based squarely on Jabotinsky's teachings: every Jew had the right to enter Palestine; only active retaliation would deter the Arabs; only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state".
Two of the operations for which the Irgun is best known are the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 22 July 1946 and the Deir Yassin massacre, carried out together with Lehi on 9 April 1948.
The Irgun has been viewed as a terrorist organization or organization which carried out terrorist acts. Specifically the organization "committed acts of terrorism and assassination against the British, whom it regarded as illegal occupiers, and it was also violently anti-Arab" according to the Encyclopædia Britannica. In particular the Irgun was described as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, British, and United States governments; in media such as The New York Times newspaper; as well as by the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, the 1946 Zionist Congress and the Jewish Agency. However, academics such as Bruce Hoffman and Max Abrahms have written that the Irgun went to considerable lengths to avoid harming civilians, such as issuing pre-attack warnings; according to Hoffman, Irgun leadership urged "targeting the physical manifestations of British rule while avoiding the deliberate infliction of bloodshed." Irgun's tactics appealed to many Jews who believed that any action taken in the cause of the creation of a Jewish state was justified, including terrorism.
The Irgun was a political predecessor to Israel's right-wing Herut (or "Freedom") party, which led to today's Likud party. Likud has led or been part of most Israeli governments since 1977.
he'll never be indicted. It's like AOC trying to indict over there.
Netanyahu to Be Charged With Bribery Pending Hearing
Attorney general also intends to indict Netanyahu for breach of trust in two other cases ■ Decision comes a month and a half before the election
Feb 28, 2019
Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit announced on Thursday his decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases, pending a hearing.
■ In Case 4000, Netanyahu is accused of providing regulatory concessions to Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder of Bezeq telecommunications, in exchange for favorable coverage from Bezeq’s news website, Walla. The charge: Bribery and breach of trust.
■ In Case 1000, in which the prime minister is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy business figures in return for political favors, the charges are fraud and breach of trust.
■ In Case 2000, which centers around a deal between the prime minister and Arnon Mozes - favorable coverage in return for damaging the Sheldon Adelson's competing newspaper, Israel Hayom. The charge: Breach of trust and fraud.
Mendelblit's decision comes after three years of investigations, and it marks the first time in Israel's history that an attorney general announces an indictment for bribery against an incumbent prime minister.
"You have hurt the image of public service and public faith in it," Mendelblit wrote to Netanyahu in his decision. "You acted in a conflict of interests, you abused your authority while taking into account other considerations that relate to your personal interests and the interests of your family. You corrupted public servants working under you."
The Likud party petitioned the High Court on Thursday in a last-minute bid to block the announcement, but was rejected. In response, the ruling party said the court failed to stop the left from meddling in the election.
A request by Netanyahu’s attorneys to put off announcing the decision until after the April 9 general election was dismissed by Mendelblit, who cited “the principle of equality before the law and the public’s right to know about such important decisions.” Netanyahu responded by accusing the attorney general of "surrendering" to the left and the media.
Mendelblit’s decision comes after months of lengthy discussions that involved 20 senior Justice Ministry officials who dove into the mass of evidence in the cases, which took three years to investigate.
Some 140 witnesses gave evidence in the cases, including three who turned state’s evidence – Ari Harow, Shlomo Filber and Nir Hefetz– and five current or former government ministers – Yair Lapid, Gilad Erdan, Yariv Levin, Zeev Elkin and Tzipi Livni. Numerous journalists also gave evidence, along with four former senior editors of the Walla website and former Yedioth editor Ron Yaron. The opinions of the team of prosecutors who accompanied the investigations, headed by Liat Ben Ari and Jonathan Tadmor, filled 800 pages.
In Case 4000, Netanyahu’s line of defense is similar to that of Elovitch: He claims no connection between his actions regarding Bezeq and what went on in Walla’s editorial offices, and that the decisions Netanyahu made regarding the telecom giant when he was communications minister were reasonable, had the support of the ministry’s professionals and were approved by the legal gatekeepers. Netanyahu argues that he signed the documents approving the merger between Bezeq and Yes, both owned by Elovitch, the way he signed many documents in the piles set before him.
He also claims that not only did he not get favorable coverage from the Walla news site, as is alleged, but on the contrary, coverage of him was often hostile, consistent with the policy of the owners who wanted fair and balanced coverage.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu argues that it’s permissible to accept gifts from friends. He says he never asked for cigars or champagne from his friend Arnon Milchan because he didn’t need to. “Milchan was swimming in cigars and champagne,” he told journalists. He added that his late attorney, Jacob Weinroth, had allowed him to take gifts from friends. If his wife was asking Milchan or James Packer for gifts on her own, he was not aware of it.
Netanyahu categorically denies that there was a quid-pro-quo relationship between himself and Milchan. As proof he recalled how he fought to close Channel 10 (in which Milchan had a stake) and that as finance minister he had worked to break Milchan’s monopoly in the auto import market.
Another line of defense, which also has come up in Case 2000, is that the investigations against him were discriminatory, because police didn’t similarly question another good friend of Milchan’s, Yair Lapid. In Case 2000, Netanyahu complains that none of the MKs who advanced the Israel Hayom bill (which would have benefited Yedioth Aharonot) were questioned by police. Both he and Mozes also claim, in response to the incriminating recordings of them making commitments to one another, that they were merely toying with each other and neither had any intention of keeping his promises to the other.
‘You knew you were taking a bribe’: The specifics of Netanyahu’s alleged crimes
In 57-page ‘announcement of suspicions,’ attorney general details instances in which PM was party to illicit deals and conflicts of interest, harmed public trust, abused his office
28 February 2019
Amid unending political chatter and myriad claims relating to his conduct from across the political spectrum, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has kept near silence over the allegations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since police opened their investigations into the premier over two years ago.
On Thursday he finally spoke out, announcing in a 57-page document his plans to press charges against Netanyahu for a series of alleged crimes in three separate cases.
In a move that drastically shakes up Israeli politics less than six weeks before general elections, Mandelblit said Netanyahu will be indicted, pending a hearing, for fraud, breach of trust and bribery.
The felony of “fraud and breach of trust” applies when public servants have compromised their ability to act in the public interest, according to Prof. Barak Medina, the former dean of the Hebrew University Law Faculty.
“You don’t have to take money or get benefits to be guilty, you don’t even have to discuss it,” Medina noted. “Actively putting yourself at risk of not acting in the public interest is the very definition of fraud and breach of trust. That’s it.”
Bribery, however, is considered an even more severe crime and carries with it the additional label of “moral turpitude” — defined in law as “an act or behavior that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community” — which prohibits politicians from running for office for a full seven years after the end of a prison or community service sentence.
In the “announcement of suspicions” document delivered to Netanyahu and his legal team on Thursday afternoon, Mandelblit details multiple instances of wrongdoing “at the hands of [the prime minister] during the time in which you were a public servant.”
Case 1000: ‘Serious conflict of interest’
In Case 1000, involving accusations that Netanyahu received gifts and benefits from billionaire benefactors, including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian mega-investor James Packer, in exchange for favors, Mandelblit said he intends to charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust while closing the case against Milchan.
According to Mandelblit, Netanyahu was guilty of a “serious conflict of interest between your obligation to [the benefactors] and your obligation to the public.” He said the prime minister and his wife allegedly received gifts amounting to NIS 701,146 ($195,000), with NIS 477, 972 ($130,000) worth of cigars, champagne and jewelry from Milchan, and NIS 229, 174 ($75,000) worth of cigars and Champagne from Packer.
“As well as the friendly relations you shared you received various benefits, at times in response to your specific requests… At times these benefits were given to you to lever your public position as prime minister,” Mandelblit wrote.
The attorney general said there were three instances where Netanyahu used his position to advance Milchan’s interests: helping him secure a long-term US visa; working to extend a little-known tax exemption law that would benefit the Hollywood producer; and working to advance Milchan’s investment interest in the Israeli media scene.
Amendment 168 to the Tax Ordinance is ostensibly a piece of legislation meant to encourage aliyah (immigration to Israel) by Jews living abroad, Amendment 168 to the Income Tax Ordinance was signed into law in September 2008 by then-prime minister Ehud Olmert. As it stands, it grants a 10-year tax exemption on income earned abroad to new immigrants and to returning residents who have lived abroad for at least 10 years. In addition, it gives those eligible a 10-year exemption on reporting earnings abroad.
The law, however, flies in the face of international anti-money laundering standards and each year for the past several years the finance minister has tried to abrogate it. Each year, as part of negotiations over the Arrangements Bill, the effort to cancel it is scuttled, putting Israel in danger of being placed on international anti-money laundering sanctions lists.
Arnon Milchan (left) and Benjamin Netanyahu at a press conference in the Knesset on March 28, 2005. (Flash90)
Both the Finance Ministry and the State Comptroller have agreed that the law, even in its current form, leeches millions of potential shekels from the state coffers each year and does more to help Israel thrive as a shady tax haven than it does to encourage aliyah. Nonetheless, every year what has been described by officials as “a hidden hand” ensures that the exemption remains part of the state budget against the wishes of the Treasury.
Mandelblit said Netanyahu twice asked then-finance minister Yair Lapid in 2009 about expanding the provisions of the law, on one occasion specifically asking what changes would be needed in order to allow Milchan, also an old friend of Lapid’s, to benefit as best possible. The attorney general said Netanayhu was acting on the specific request of Milchan.
Mandelblit said Milchan could have potentially saved millions of dollars in taxes had the change to what has become known as the “Milchan Law” not been thwarted by the Treasury.
The second intervention Netanyahu made on behalf of Milchan, Mandelblit charged, came in the form of repeated efforts to secure him a long-term US visa by asking then-US secretary of state John Kerry about the issue three times in 2014, as well as asking then-US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro on a number of occasions.
On one occasion, Mandelblit said, Milchan came to the Prime Minster’s Office in Jerusalem and, while there, Netanyahu phoned Kerry to discuss the visa.
Born in Israel, the Los Angeles-based Hollywood producer Milchan, 72, never became a US citizen, but used to enjoy 10-year visas to live there. However, in 2013, he gave an interview to Israel’s Channel 2 in which he acknowledged that he had worked in the past for the Israeli intelligence community. In the wake of his disclosures, according to Channel 2, Milchan — behind such movie hits as “Fight Club,” “Pretty Woman,” “LA Confidential,” “12 Years a Slave” and “The Big Short” — was no longer granted 10-year US visas, and instead was required to apply for an annual extension.
Netanyahu has admitted to asking Kerry to intervene to restore the 10-year US visa but claimed it had nothing to do with the gifts, and that he has made similar gestures for others.
Mandelblit said Netanyahu’s efforts were the contributing factor in securing the visa renewal.
Finally, regarding Case 1000, Mandelblit alleged that Netanyahu carried out a series of interventions that aided Milchan in his attempt to secure a major interest in the now-defunct Channel 2 TV station.
Before it was split into two separate channels, Channel 2 was operated by two franchises, Reshet and Keshet. (Keshet now operates Channel 12 while Reshet runs Channel 13.) Under the plan hatched by Netanyahu and Milchan, Mandelblit said, the Hollywood producer would have gone into partnership with Reshet. Then, at some point in the future, Milchan is believed to have hoped to merge Reshet with Keshet.
Mandelblit said Netanyahu allegedly helped set up a number of meetings between Milchan and relevant investors, and instructed then-Communications Ministry director general Shlomo Filber, who has turned state’s witness in the case, to help move the issue forward.
Based on these actions and the “serious conflict of interest” stemming from the gifts given to Netanyahu by Milchan, Mandelblit said that the prime minister had “damaged the image of public service by… keeping up a long-term prohibited relationship.”
Mandelblit noted “uncustomary actions” by Netanyahu in the requests he made of the US State Department, the finance minister and the Communications Ministry director general.
“In your actions you allegedly abused your position and status and significantly and seriously harmed the propriety of the public administration, the integrity of public servants and public trust in public servants,” the attorney general charged.
Case 2000: ‘Severely damaging public trust’
In Case 2000, involving accusations Netanyahu agreed with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth, Mandelblit intends to charge the premier with breach of trust, while Mozes will be charged with bribery. The case is said to have been a contentious one in Mandelblit’s office, with many prosecution officials reportedly arguing that Netanyahu should be charged with bribery, while Mandelblit considered not charging the prime minister at all.
Under the alleged agreement between Mozes and Netanyahu — which was not implemented — the prime minister said he would advance legislation to curb the circulation of the Israel Hayom daily if Mozes instructed his reporters and op-ed writers to change their often negative stance toward him, Mandelblit charged.
From 2009, “Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes held conversations and personal meetings during which they discussed helping each other as a quid pro quo to advance their respective interests,” he wrote.
Publisher and owner of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper Arnon ‘Noni’ Mozes arrives for questioning at the Lahav 433 investigation unit in Lod, January 15, 2017. (Koko/Flash90)
Mandelblit said Netanyahu offered his support for possible measures including closing Israel Hayom, helping to shrink the newspaper’s circulation numbers, and nixing the free daily’s weekend edition. The law did not pass, as the government folded and went to elections in 2015.
Furthermore, “the sides took actual active steps in advancing each other’s interests in continuation of the understandings reached between them, or at least presented to each other as if they had acted that way,” the attorney general wrote.
Yedioth, once the country’s largest tabloid, is often seen as critical of Netanyahu.
According to Mandelblit, Mozes, in return for the prime minister’s help, offered Netanyahu a “direct line” to the editors of both Yedioth and its Ynet website, Israel’s leading news site, telling him he could “have direct influence on articles about him.”
Mandelblit said he would be seeking a charge of bribery against Mozes but only fraud and breach of trust against Netanyahu. Nonetheless, he accused the prime minister of “severely damaging public trust,” by carrying out a “detailed and expansive negotiation” with Mozes over his offer rather than stopping it immediately.
Case 4000: ‘Bribe-based relationship’
In Case 4000, widely seen as the most serious against the premier, Netanyahu is accused of having advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, in exchange for positive coverage from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site. In this case, Mandelblit announced he intends to charge both Netanyahu and Elovitch with bribery.
In a blistering accusation, Mandeblit said Netanyahu “intervened in a blatant and ongoing manner, and sometimes even daily, in the content published by the Walla News website, and also sought to influence the appointment of senior officials [editors and reporters] via their contacts with Shaul and Iris Elovitch,” the Bezeq owner’s wife.
Elovitch ensured favorable coverage of Netanyahu at Walla, Israel’s second largest news site, and critical coverage of Netanyahu’s rivals, especially in the 2013 and 2015 election periods, Mandelblit charged.
In one astonishing example, Netanyahu is accused of pushing for his media adviser, Nir Hefetz (who later turned state’s witness) to be allowed to edit an interview with Netanyahu. The request was accepted, Mandelblit said.
In return, Mandeblit claimed, Netanyahu intervened in regulatory and other business decisions that benefited the Israeli tycoon to the tune of NIS 1.8 billion — some $500 million.
The allegations of misconduct go back to when Netanyahu replaced Gilad Erdan as communications minister in November 2014 in what critics saw as a power grab to give him increased control over the media and telecom industries. He subsequently fired then-director-general Avi Berger over the phone in May 2015 and appointed Filber in his stead.
The move, as well as Netanyahu’s insistence that the 2015 coalition agreements include a provision giving him “sole control” over media matters, was aimed at creating less confrontational stance vis-à-vis Bezeq, which Berger had sought to limit, Mandelblit said.
Under his watch, Bezeq appeared to be given preferential treatment.
For example, in 2014 Israel launched a wholesale market reform to open up the fixed line telephony and internet market, dominated by Bezeq, to vibrant competition. According to the planned reform, as described by Mandelblit, by March 2017 Bezeq was supposed to lease out its infrastructure to telecom competitors such as Partner Communications Co. and Cellcom so they could provide competing fixed line and internet services. With Filber overseeing the implementation, Bezeq reneged on its obligation.
The relationship between Netanyahu and Elovitch marked a blatant conflict of interest, the attorney general wrote, in which Elovitch’s intervened “crudely” on Netanyahu’s behalf at Walla, in the expectation, which bore fruit, of business benefit. Netanyahu indeed used his “power and authority” to advance Elovitch’s interests, to the extent that Elovitch “directly or indirectly” made 1.8 billion shekels as a consequence of Netanyahu’s regulatory and other decisions.
Mandelblit said he believed there is enough evidence to bring Netanyahu to trial on charges of accepting bribes as well as fraud and breach of trust and fraudulently accepting benefits. He noted that he agreed with police that Netanyahu and Bezeq boss Elovitch engaged in a “bribe-based relationship.”
Disagreeing with police and the state prosecution, however, Mandelblit did not decide on charges against Sara Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, and for “disruption of investigative and judicial proceedings.” He also dropped possible charges against the Netanyahus’ son Yair.
Crucially, Mandelblit said the prime minister used his office “to promote Shaul Elovitch’s regulatory affairs…You took benefits…while knowing you were taking a bribe as a public servant in exchange for actions related to your position.”
Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is ‘not a state of all its citizens’
PM has been accused of demonising Israeli Arabs in lead-up to April election
10 Mar 2019
Benjamin Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting Israel was the ‘nation state only of the Jewish people’.
Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel is “not a state of all its citizens”, in a reference to the country’s Arab population.
In comments on Instagram, the prime minister went on to say all citizens, including Arabs, had equal rights, but he referred to a deeply controversial law passed last year declaring Israel the nation state of the Jewish people.
“Israel is not a state of all its citizens,” he wrote in response to criticism from an Israeli actor, Rotem Sela. “According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it.
“As you wrote, there is no problem with the Arab citizens of Israel. They have equal rights like all of us and the Likud government has invested more in the Arab sector than any other government,” he said of his rightwing party.
As the comments caused waves in Israel, Netanyahu again spoke of the issue at the start of a cabinet meeting. He called Israel a “Jewish, democratic state” with equal rights, but “the nation state not of all its citizens but only of the Jewish people”.
Netanyahu has been accused of demonising Israeli Arabs, who make up about 17% of the population, in an attempt to boost rightwing turnout in elections due on 9 April.
He has continually warned that his opponents will receive the support of Arab parties and that they will make significant concessions to the Palestinians.
Netanyahu, under threat of indictment for corruption, is facing a tough challenge from a centrist political alliance led by Benny Gantz, a former military chief of staff, and Yair Lapid, an ex-finance minister.
The alliance’s centrist positions and its security credentials – it includes three former military chiefs of staff – have helped it beat back Netanyahu’s claims that its leaders are “weak” leftists.
Arab parties would be extremely unlikely to be part of any coalition government after elections.
Arab Israelis are Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 creation of Israel and are largely supportive of the Palestinian cause.
Netanyahu leads what is seen as the most rightwing government in Israel’s history and says he wants a similar coalition after the upcoming polls.
Iran's ministry of intelligence is called Vaja.
Gantz, Netanyahu’s Challenger, Faces Lurid Questions After Iran Hacked His Phone
March 15, 2019
NAHAL OZ, Israel — Benny Gantz, Israel’s former army chief, is campaigning to lead his country as the clean, moral alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces indictment in a corruption scandal.
But less than a month before the election, Mr. Gantz found himself fielding seamy-sounding questions late Friday about whether he had committed adultery, opened himself up to possible extortion or sandbagged his political allies to advance his own career.
The awkward news appearance here at a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip followed a report on Israeli television that Mr. Gantz’s cellphone had been hacked by Iranian intelligence after his entry into politics in December and that personal and professional information had been stolen.
Mr. Gantz retired from the military in 2015, so the issue is not whether classified information might now be in enemy hands, but that he could be vulnerable to blackmail if elected. The hack threatened to set back his bid, which polls have shown has the strongest chance of any opposition politician to depose Mr. Netanyahu. With rumors flying about what might have been harvested from Mr. Gantz’s cellphone, his party, the Blue and White, issued a statement saying the stolen data included “no security information, no embarrassing videos, and he was never a target of blackmail.”
That was not enough to put a lid on the speculation, however, and so the laconic Mr. Gantz, whose campaign strategy has entailed saying as little as possible, hastily arranged his first news conference.
His backdrop was the Gaza border, where a wave of Israeli airstrikes hit early Friday after two Hamas rockets had reached Tel Aviv for the first time since the summerlong war of 2014. That allowed Mr. Gantz, who prosecuted that war as army chief, to try to shame the Israeli press into focusing on more sober matters.
“We are here in a story of an ongoing security event,” Mr. Gantz said, glowering in front of a barbed-wire fence, to dozens of journalists who had trekked the hour from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem shortly before the start of the Sabbath. “And in the reality we are in, someone suddenly broke some political, gossipy and completely delusional story.”
Given that his party’s statement said there were no videos, he was asked, might there be embarrassing photos or correspondence? “I’m not going to stoop to that place,” he said, calling it “unethical nosiness.”
Did he ever have a relationship with a woman that could be the basis for extortion? another reporter ventured. “I’m not subject to extortion under any circumstances,” he said, again refusing to go there.
Mr. Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party is leading Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud in the polls in terms of the number of Parliament’s 120 seats it is expected to win. But the prime ministership is determined based on which leader can forge a majority governing coalition, a measure on which Mr. Gantz and his partners trail the incumbent and his right-wing allies.
On Friday, Mr. Gantz flatly accused the prime minister of being “behind the reports about the telephone.”
Mr. Gantz was informed of the hacking in early February by the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service. That was before he joined forces with Yair Lapid, a former finance minister whose Yesh Atid party was trailing Mr. Gantz in the polls. Mr. Lapid agreed to let Mr. Gantz sit at the top of the ticket under an agreement that would have them swap the prime ministership midstream if they win.
But Mr. Gantz did not apprise Mr. Lapid of the Iranian hack before striking that deal. In fact, Blue and White party officials said on Friday, Mr. Lapid and the two other former army chiefs of staff running alongside Mr. Gantz, Moshe Yaalon and Gabi Ashkenazi, were not informed of the breach until shortly before Thursday’s television report.
Asked why he had not apprised his political brethren sooner, Mr. Gantz was dismissive. “Yair and the others aren’t relevant to this story,” he said.
None of his three comrades, who have routinely campaigned alongside Mr. Gantz, joined him at the late-Friday news conference — though all three publicly echoed his contention that Mr. Netanyahu, who oversees the Shin Bet, had orchestrated the leak to damage him.
Mr. Lapid said Mr. Netanyahu’s “use of sensitive security material to try to smear Benny Gantz proves he is scared of him.” And Mr. Yaalon told a TV interviewer that Mr. Netanyahu wanted to distract attention from the criminal cases in which he is accused of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
The prime minister’s office said that the chief of the Shin Bet, who reports directly to Mr. Netanyahu, had not briefed him or his aides about the hacking. His Likud party denied any hand in the leak.
A security official involved in the matter said that Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, which has been engaged in a long-running spy-vs.-spy battle with Israel’s Mossad on multiple continents, had hacked Mr. Gantz’s phone and was behind a series of other cyber attacks against Israel.
The incident was reminiscent of one early in Mr. Netanyahu’s rise to power. In 1993, he admitted to having an extramarital affair after he said anonymous rivals had threatened to release a compromising videotape. No tape was ever produced, and Mr. Netanyahu accused an archrival of being behind the scandal.
Netanyahu Claims Iranian Regime Openly Supports Gantz
Kahol Lavan members attack Netanyahu for misuse of classified materials
Mar 16, 2019
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in on Saturday that the Iranian regime openly supports Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, his rivals in the upcoming election who co-chair the political alliance Kahol Lavan.
A video, posted on Netanyahu's Twitter account, addressed a report that the personal phone of former army chief of staff Gantz had been hacked by Iran, also touching upon Lapid's accusation that Netanyahu used classified information to slander Gantz ahead of the April 9 election.
The video then plays a recording, allegedly from Kol-David, a Hebrew-speaking Iranian state radio, which says “Gantz is the alternative.”
Meanwhile, a new campaign ad by Kahol Lavan attacked Netanyahu's performance as prime minister, showing Gantz and senior party members Lapid, Moshe Ya'alon and Gabi Ashkenazi accuse him of various wrongdoings and brandishing their security credentials.
In the video, the four slammed Netanyahu "for paying 15 million dollars in protection money to Hamas" and for selling himself and the country "to the Kahanists," noting: "You've been indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust."
Lapid lambasted Netanyahu for selling "our children's education to Smotrich," referring to the far-right lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich.
Yoaz Hendel, a member of Kahol Lavan, also wrote Saturday: “Forget about the delusional campaign videos. To take classified materials from an Iranian cyberattack and use them against a political rival is crossing a red line. It’s worse than the leak of the classified materials during Operation Protective Edge, worse than running to television studios in order to take credit for attacking the nuclear reactor in Syria.”
In a press conference on Friday, Gantz stated that no compromising data was found on the phone, and said the whole matter was “a political spin” meant to obscure Israel's real issues. He reassured his party members that there are no sex tapes of him and said "I'm not under threat of extortion."
Ashkenazi addressed the affair on Channel 12 news on Friday, saying “It’s no coincidence that it is leaked at this moment. Instead of talking about what’s happening in Gaza, we are talking about Benny’s phone.”
Trump to host Netanyahu at White House twice next week, 2 weeks before election
With PM in Washington to address AIPAC, administration says leaders will discuss ‘shared interests and actions in the Middle East’
20 March 2019
US President Donald Trump will twice host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington next week, the White House confirmed Wednesday, just two weeks before Israelis go to the polls for national elections on April 9.
Netanyahu and Trump will hold a “working meeting” on Monday, followed by a dinner at the White House on Tuesday, the US administration said in a statement.
“The president and the prime minister will discuss their countries’ shared interests and actions in the Middle East,” the statement said.
Netanyahu will be accompanied on the trip by his wife Sara, who is expected to attend the dinner alongside US First Lady Melania Trump.
The prime minister will be in Washington to address the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which runs from March 24 through 26.
While Netanyahu met with Trump last year while in Washington to speak at the pro-Israel lobby, this year’s meeting comes two weeks before general elections in Israel.
Netanyahu has touted his close ties with the US president as part of his campaign and his Likud party recently put up large posters at major intersections in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv of the two leaders shaking hands.
Trump later shared a picture of the poster on his Instagram account, which the US Embassy in Israel insisted was not an endorsement of the prime minister.
The US president enjoys high levels of support among Israelis and has been praised in Israel for recognizing Jerusalem as the country’s capital and pulling out of the 2015 international nuclear deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program, which Netanyahu strongly opposed.
The White House announcement of Netanyahu’s visit came as the prime minister hosted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at his office in Jerusalem.
A State Department official told reporters last week that Pompeo’s visit was meant to show the United States’ “unwavering commitment” to the Jewish state and said he was meeting with Netanyahu as Israel’s head of government.
Also set to speak at AIPAC next week is Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, a former military chief who has emerged as Netanyahu’s chief election rival.
A spokesperson for Blue and White told The Times of Israel that Gantz will not meet with Trump while in Washington.
Asked if it is fair that the president will only be meeting with Netanyahu and not Gantz, the spokesperson said it “wouldn’t be respectful to invite a candidate or challenger to meet at the White House.”
“Netanyahu is the incumbent and that is understood,” the spokesperson said.
Netanyahu’s meeting with Trump on Monday will take place an hour after Gantz speaks at AIPAC, according to Israel’s Channel 12 news.
Pompeo says it's 'possible' God planned Trump to save Jewish people
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that it is "possible" that President Trump is meant to save the Jewish people.
He made the comments during an interview in Jerusalem with the Christian Broadcasting Network.
"As a Christian I certainly believe that's possible," Pompeo responded when asked whether Trump is a new Esther, who in the Bible convinced the king of Persia not to slaughter the Jewish people.
The CBN interview falls on Purim, a Jewish holiday that marks Esther's story.
The CBN hosts in questioning Pompeo referred to Iran as the modern-day threat to the Jewish people. Trump last year withdrew the U.S. from the Iranian nuclear treaty and reimposed sanctions on the country.
"I am confident that the Lord is at work here," Pompeo added, noting that he visited the tunnels under Jerusalem during his visit.
"It was remarkable - so we were down in the tunnels where we could see 3,000 years ago, and 2,000 years ago - if I have the history just right - to see the remarkable history of the faith in this place and the work that our administration's done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state remains."
Trump's support of Israel has been lauded in the country. Last year, he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the U.S. embassy there.
On Thursday, Trump said that the U.S. should recognize Israel's disputed control of the Golan Heights, which was captured from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed by Israel in 1981. Israeli politicians had long called for the U.S. to recognize those claims.
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