Police: Sara and Yair Netanyahu suspected of bribery in Case 4000

A senior police official told the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court publicly on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, and police later leaked that also his son Yair are suspected of bribery in Case 4000.

Case 4000, also known as the Bezeq-Walla Affair, involves allegations that Netanyahu ordered preferential treatment for Bezeq in exchange for positive media coverage by the Walla media outlet – with both companies owned by oligarch Shaul Elovitch.

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Police are investigating whether Sara and Yair acted as Netanyahu‘s emissaries to Elovitch, his wife Iris and then Walla director-general Ilan Yehoshua to persuade them to make Wall more in favor of the prime minister.

While Yitzhak Rabin‘s wife Leah was investigated for having an illegal bank account in the United States when he was prime minister in 1977 and Ariel‘s Sharon‘s son, former MK Omri Sharon, was investigated and served jail time for a scandal relating to fundraising for his father‘s 1999 Likud leadership campaign, this is the first time ever that a sitting prime minister, his wife and son have ever been investigated together in the same probe.

Netanyahu‘s associates mocked the new allegations, saying that the Netanyahu family‘s recently deceased dog Kaya also received positive coverage on the Walla News site.

"Kaya had the good fortune to pass away before she, too, would have been added to the circle of those suspected of bribery," the Netanyahu family said in a statement. "There is no limit to the absurdity. But in any case, the coverage of the prime minister on Walla News was and remains consistently negative."

In June, The Jerusalem Post exclusively reported that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit will likely indict the prime minister for bribery in Case 4000.

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In addition, many reports have alluded to Sara Netanyahu assisting in pushing Walla to cover the prime minister more positively, even potentially and implicitly threatening Walla at certain points for negative coverage.

But Thursday’s statement was the first official statement that the prime minister’s wife and son are suspects, along with him, in the media bribery affair.

The statement came as a side comment in a hearing mostly about the status of property which the police seized from the Elovitch family as part of the investigation.

During cross-examination, Elovitch’s lawyer sought to compare the police’s treatment and suspicions regarding Sara Netanyahu to the treatment of the Elovitch’s. The police statement that Sara Netanyahu is a bribery suspect came out during these questions.

Sara Netanyahu has already been separately indicted for some NIS 360,000 of fraud in the . Her trial in that case is slated to begin in October.

The Netanyahu family spokesperson denied the newfound allegations, saying: “What’s new about this absurd suspicion? So the police say. These allegations never happened.”

Late Thursday night, Channel 1 predicted, based on statements by the state’s lawyer, that Case 4000 would be turned over to the prosecution within six months, and that Mandelblit’s decision in Case 4000 would be delayed to late 2019.

However, the Post has learned that the statement was made in a complex context relating to the Elovitch’s valuables and that expecting the police to take another six months before they turnover the case would be a misreading.

There are still strong indications that Mandelblit will decide by or before the early months of 2019, though investigations are always dynamic.

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