Netanyahu trial: Bezeq and Avi Berger’s troubles could determine Bibi’s fate

The biggest headlines in former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial came in its early days when former Walla CEO Ilan Yeshua accused him or his messengers of bribery in the media.

And yet, last week and this week, the less covered testimony and cross-examination of the former director general of the Ministry of Communications, Avi Berger, may actually be much more decisive regarding the fate of the former prime minister and current leader of the opposition.

Case 4000 consists of two parts, the Bezeq-Walla case.

One part is the accusation that Netanyahu gained control of Walla’s coverage; and the other is that the then Prime Minister and Minister of Communications influenced government policy to favor Bezeq.

The connector between Walla and Bezeq was Shaul Elovitch, who owned both.

Former Director General of the Ministry of Communications Avi Berger arrives for testimony in the case against former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on trial on criminal charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, at the Jerusalem District Court, the October 27th. 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH90)

To date, the judges have seen the prosecution present an impressive and profound case of interference with Walla’s coverage by Netanyahu’s messengers, allegedly on his orders.

At the same time, the defense managed to show that Yeshua sometimes disgraced himself and intervened with his reporter’s coverage of Netanyahu without being asked, or that he sometimes intervened on behalf of Netanyahu’s competitors such as Isaac Herzog or Avigdor Liberman.

Furthermore, the defense attempted to separate Netanyahu himself from the actions of his messengers.

While the defense cannot make the deep evidence of interference in Walla that aided Netanyahu disappear, the narrative they hoped would cast doubt among justices was that Netanyahu just received the most attention in a Walla system in which many politicians received a Special treatment.

That wouldn’t sound criminal or like a bribe.

But Berger later came to testify that Netanyahu ordered him to follow the orders of his assistant Eitan Tzfarir, who ordered him to agree to two hugely controversial measures to help Bezeq / Elovitch.

These two measures approved the controversial Bezeq-YES merger and indefinitely postponed reforms to help other companies compete with Bezeq.

In short, Berger said that Netanyahu abused his power as a minister to ingratiate himself with Elovitch.

If judges can be undecided about how to frame Netanyahu’s special treatment, Berger’s testimony about Netanyahu’s actions with the Communications Ministry could put them in a guilty verdict.

It’s one thing to be unsure in the vacuum why Netanyahu received special treatment. It is quite another when Berger can give the prosecution proof of the quid pro quo they want to hang around Netanyahu’s neck.

Berger’s testimony may not only change the way judges look back at Walla’s mixed evidence.

He could also, in one fell swoop, make Netanyahu distinctive compared to all the other politicians to whom Yeshua gave special treatment.

In other words, Berger’s allegations, if true, would prove that Netanyahu was unique to the extreme: not only did he get positive coverage of Walla, but he alone, among politicians, gave NIS 1.8 billion worth of value to Elovitch in return. .

Who knows whether or not the other politicians might have done the same with the same power, but Berger’s evidence could show that they simply didn’t have the same power. This would mean that there is no comparison to be made.

Berger’s narrative also helps the prosecution answer why Netanyahu is the first (or indeed the second) public official to face a charge of bribery in the media: none of the others had the same power, creativity, or audacity to do the same. same supposed movements.

This is not to say that the case was lost because of Berger’s testimony.

The defense has managed to raise some questions about whether ministry experts categorically opposed the Bezeq-YES merger or whether they just had strong conditions.

Furthermore, the defense has presented some evidence suggesting that only Tzafrir directly ordered Berger to approve the merger, and that the evidence related to Netanyahu is more connected to problems with Channel 10 television.

On Monday, the defense also argued in court that Netanyahu would not have given Gilad Erdan extra time as communications minister to continue the reform process had he been corruptly and overtly opposed.

And most of the direct evidence on Netanyahu’s mindset will only be raised later by his former aides Nir Hefetz and Shlomo Filber.

But Berger has a lot of credibility as an expert and, unlike Netanyahu’s two aides who changed their stories to go against Netanyahu when they became state witnesses, he has consistently been against the former prime minister.

Furthermore, he does not exaggerate and give Netanyahu side points along with his accusations.

In the end, the trial will come down to Hefetz, Filber, Netanyahu and Elovitch on the stand.

But Berger may be the silver bullet of the legal war that no one saw fully coming.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *