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Yeshua testimony to conclude after 6 months

CM 07/10/2021

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The testimony of former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua in the public corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the Jerusalem District Court is expected to conclude on Monday after six months.
After one month of questioning by the prosecution back in April, Yeshua was cross-examined for about two months by the defense until the summer recess, followed by additional defense questioning when the trial reopened on September 13.
On Monday, the prosecution is expected to do a short round of rebuttal questioning and then they will call the trial’s second witness, former Walla chief editor Aviram Elad.

Former Walla news editor Michal Klein and former desk chief Amit Shkady are expected to testify after Elad, whose testimony is not expected to be drawn out as long as Yeshua’s did.
All of the above witnesses are part of the prosecution’s efforts to prove media bribery in Case 4000, the so-called Walla-Bezeq Affair.
In order to convict Netanyahu in the case, the prosecution would need to prove two parallel components: One would be that the former prime minister, and his aides at his direction, allegedly systematically managed Walla’s media coverage in around 315 incidents between the years 2013-2016.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen as he arrives for a court hearing at the District Court in Jerusalem on April 05, 2021, PM Netanyahu is on trial on criminal allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. (credit: OREN BEN HAKOON/POOL)Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen as he arrives for a court hearing at the District Court in Jerusalem on April 05, 2021, PM Netanyahu is on trial on criminal allegations of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. (credit: OREN BEN HAKOON/POOL)

A related second component would be that Netanyahu allegedly used his power as prime minister and communications minister to influence government policy to help Shaul Elovitch, the joint owner of Walla and Bezeq, to the tune of NIS 1.8 billion in value, in exchange for the control of large aspects of Walla’s coverage.
During their questioning of Yeshua, the prosecution made a strong case that Netanyahu and his aides had intervened in a variety of instances both to get Netanyahu positive coverage, to get greater exposure for positive Netanyahu-related items, to secure negative coverage of Netanyahu’s political competitors, and to downplay any stories that were not to the former prime minister’s advantage.
In an astounding volume of text messages between Yeshua and Elovitch, as well as to aides of Netanyahu, evidence was presented showing an unprecedented level of control and phraseology that many commentators identified as mafia-style interactions in terms of the use of code words to obfuscate what was meant in case the messages were ever obtained by police.
There were also many messages in which Elovitch specifically instructed Yeshua to take actions at Walla that Netanyahu wanted, which the magnate specifically tied to getting the prime minister to sign off on concrete government decisions that would help Bezeq.
HOWEVER, THE defense then spent months tearing into Yeshua’s credibility.
They showed that Yeshua participated in numerous “transactions” of positive coverage for access with Netanyahu rivals, such as Isaac Herzog, Avi Gabbay, Avigdor Liberman and many others.
In some cases, they even showed that some of these politicians might have made positive statements to business people to get them to make certain deals with Walla.
Further, the defense got Yeshua to admit over and over again that texts that he sent to people were outright lies.
Eventually, the number of texts that he admitted were lies got so high that some of the judges asked him if he could give them some kind of code or guidance to be able to know when he was telling the truth.
Critically, the defense also got Yeshua to admit to numerous instances in which he acted independently to cut deals relating to Netanyahu or with other political officials, without being directed to do so by Elovitch in order to help Bezeq.
Both the prosecution and the defense have won some tactical victories along the way.
As of September 26, the prosecution won the right to expand and look into new evidence against Netanyahu relating to another former Walla chief editor Avi Alkalai.
However, this only came after the defense embarrassed the prosecution when it secured a court order to compel the state to review and turn over new large volumes of texts Yeshua had sent relating to Netanyahu’s competitors.
The prosecution had wanted to claim that these were irrelevant to whether Netanyahu was guilty.
But in a possible early indication of the court’s thinking, the defense convinced the judges that presenting more evidence about how Walla operated with other politicians could help prove that there was no unique bribery scheme for Netanyahu – it was just that Walla violated journalistic ethics across the board.
Another thing the court has clarified over six months of proceedings, even with a summer recess, is that the judges will allow the defense to move the trial forward at a glacial pace.
If once predictions had ranged from 18 months to three years for the trial (starting from April), three years may now be a foregone conclusion, and it may yet drag out even longer.
Part of this is because Case 4000 looks like it will drag out well over a year, and that after that the court will also need to hear evidence regarding Case 1000, the Illegal Gifts Affair, and Case 2000, the Yediot Aharonot-Israel Hayom Affair.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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