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The Telecoms Merger That Could Cost Netanyahu It All

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Netanyahu Hit By Legal Storm

The most serious of the corruption charges looming against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu involve allegations that he shaped industry rules to favor the country’s largest telecommunications company, Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Corporation Ltd. Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit has served notice that he plans to indict Netanyahu for bribery in the case as the country prepares for general elections in April.

Mandelblit says that when Netanyahu approved a merger in 2015 between Bezeq’s television unit Yes and the parent company he did so to help his close friend Shaul Elovitch, who had stakes in both, pocket a windfall. The attorney general says that Netanyahu, who was also serving as communications minister at the time, promised additional regulatory relief for the telecommunications giant. Investigators have alleged that Netanyahu’s handpicked director-general of the Communications Ministry, Shlomo Filber, allowed Bezeq executives secret access to internal ministry documents so they could review them and suggest changes. Filber turned state’s witness last year.