Netanyahu confidant said poised to sign deal to turn state's witness

A close confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau that was arrested recently is suspected of offering a judge the country's top justice post in exchange for using the position to kill an investigation into Sara Netanyahu's alleged misuse of public funds, Israeli media reports said Tuesday.

While the Prime Minister has not been named as a suspect in relation to the former corruption scandal involving an Israeli telecommunications company, he has been implicated by association after Israeli media reported he received favourable coverage for himself and his family while he was acting Minister of Communications from late 2014 to February previous year. Netanyahu has denied any and all wrongdoing.

The Haaretz daily revealed that Gerstel, at the time, disclosed the offer to her friend Esther Hayut - then a judge on the Supreme Court and today Israel's chief justice.

Police investigators suspect that in return for Bezeq's subsidiary news website Walla's favorable coverage of Netanyahu, Communications Ministry regulators-when Netanyahu was serving as Communications Minister concurrent with his tenure as prime minister-gave Bezeq preferential treatment in order to increase the communications giant's profits - enough to enable Boss Elovitch to repay the huge sums he had borrowed in order to gain control of the Bezeq empire. "He was never asked to make such a proposal, and we do not believe that Hefetz even raised such a thing", Golan said, according to the New York Times.

Bezeq's controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch is also in custody, along with his wife, son and other top Bezeq executives.

Netanyahu not only enjoys the administration's sympathy and its sense of forgiveness, but is also in a position to leverage his warm welcome in the U.S.to help paper over his political troubles at home, where recommendations to indict a sitting prime minister are not viewed lightly. Netanyahu dismissed the investigations as "delusional, fabricated claims" that are part of an "orchestrated campaign" against him and vowed to "continue to lead the state of Israel responsibly, discreetly and with great dedication".

Commerce Department Offers Trump Ammunition for His Trade War
Another is a tariff of at least 53 percent on all imports from 12 countries including China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Meanwhile, growth of US exports to the region has been the slowest among all of the bloc's major trading partners.

The new probe comes days after police announced there was sufficient evidence to indict Mr Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in two separate cases.

The new scandal appears to have come out as part of probing Hefetz's involvement in the Bezeq media affair, an investigation into whether aides to Netanyahu, and possibly the prime minister himself, arranged favorable treatment for Bezeq in exchange for positive coverage from the Walla media outlet.

Netanyahu has not been named as a suspect in the Bezeq affair, but a spokesman for his family responded to media reports on the investigation, calling them "yet another empty probe" that would yield nothing. But as suspicions grow, "it becomes more hard politically to support Netanyahu", says CNN. A statement issued on Sunday by a personal spokesman to Netanyahu said all decisions related to Bezeq "were made according to recommendations of expert committees and expert officials".

He is accused of receiving lavish gifts from Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. In return, police say Netanyahu had operated on Milchan's behalf on US visa matters, legislated a tax break and connected him with an Indian businessman.

The police's bombshell February 13 announcement, declaring that investigators are recommending charging the prime minister with two counts of bribery, kicked off a legal process that will take months to fully unfold.

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