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Defense may demand halting Netanyahu trial to appeal Yeshua testimony

CM 06/04/2021

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Day two of the public corruption trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started on Tuesday morning with former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua continuing to testify to the Jerusalem District Court.

The lawyers defending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Shaul and Iris Elovitch may request that the Jerusalem District Court halt the entire public corruption trial until they can appeal to the High Court of Justice against the court’s Tuesday afternoon ruling in favor of the prosecution regarding Yeshua’s testimony.
After three hours of debate by the prosecution and defense about whether Yeshua should be allowed to make new factual statements that were not part of his police testimony, the Jerusalem District Court rejected the defense’s arguments.
The defense had demanded that Yeshua first return to the police to make additions and only after to let him continue his testimony.
The court accepted the prosecution’s argument that this was unnecessary as it did not view his additions as sufficiently major to change the basic thrust of his testimony.
During the exchange, the prosecution also accused the defense of trying to block Yeshua from testifying, leading to a harsh counter condemnation by the defense.

On Monday, Yeshua testified that he and a senior editor referred to Netanyahu as “Kim,” a reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

Yeshua said he and senior Walla editor Avi Alkalai did this because they felt pressured to tilt coverage toward Netanyahu.“All the requests of politicians over 13 years might be equivalent to one week of requests from the prime minister and his wife [over three years],” he said. “Also, the quality of their requests was not as intense as what was here” with the Netanyahus.Yeshua said he faced a revolt within Walla, and there was a revolving door of editors leaving in protest.Top Walla personality Yinon Magal once asked Yeshua: “What is the abomination we are doing here?” and threatened to go directly to Netanyahu to get him to drop the requests to tilt coverage.
NETANYAHU WAS hit with the first concrete testimony regarding allegations of the Case 4000 media bribery scheme against him, when Yeshua told the court he was ordered to tilt coverage in favor of the prime minister and his wife, Sara.“At the end of 2012, requests started to come from [Bezeq and Walla owner Shaul] Elovitch to favor positive articles for Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife, Sara,” to reduce the prominence of and take down unflattering articles and to attack competitors such as Naftali Bennett.Yeshua alleged that he was “abused” by Netanyahu’s messengers, and that he and Alkalai “were so beaten down” that they “and other reporters started to self-censor and avoid doing critical pieces” on Netanyahu.

The former Walla CEO stated that the Elovitch family met with him and told him that he would need to coordinate his story with them and Netanyahu, adding that the family tried to get him to destroy all the text messages on the spot and that Shaul Elovitch tried to get him to destroy his phone. Yeshua refused to destroy the messages, saying he would do so later after he removed his personal messages.

The drama was palpable, with Yeshua revealing Netanyahu’s alleged massive efforts to carry out a public character assassination of Bennett, just when the Yamina Party leader is currently weighing whether to secure Netanyahu’s future as premier or to topple him.Yeshua was describing the background to Case 4000, the “Bezeq-Walla Affair,” which is the most severe of Netanyahu’s three alleged public corruption cases.The allegations are that Netanyahu favored Elovitch’s Bezeq in his communications policy in exchange for positive coverage from Elovitch’s Walla website.Elovitch’s lawyer Jacques Chen shot up to object that Yeshua was testifying about new issues not mentioned in the indictment.The court is due to rule about whether these new issues can be part of the trial later this week, he said, adding that the prosecution should not raise them until the court rules.Netanyahu lawyer Boaz Ben-Tzur also objected to Yeshua’s reference to attacks he was ordered to post on the Walla website against Ayelet Shaked, Yamina’s No. 2, and Uri Ariel.Regarding Chen, the court asked the prosecution to hold off on the disputed evidence until later in the week. However, regarding Shaked and Ariel, the prosecution quoted from Yeshua’s police statements to show that the evidence was not new.Ben-Tzur then dropped his objection.Yeshua’s testimony followed the prosecution’s opening statement earlier on Monday.
Source: Jerusalem Post

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