In a stunning turn of events, the three judges presiding over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Case 4000 (Bezek-Walla) trial have reportedly conveyed to the prosecution their belief that proving any bribery charges will be extremely difficult. This revelation raises significant doubts about the prosecution’s ability to establish bribery in the case against Netanyahu.
Case 4000 involves the communication conglomerate Bezeq, and the investigation reviewed, among other issues, whether falsehoods were made in regards to paperwork leading to favorable business dealings for Bezeq owner Shaul Elovitch in exchange for favorable reporting to Netanyahu by the news website Walla which Elovitch owned.
Two days ago, the judges summoned both the prosecution and the defense to their chambers, where a 15-minute meeting took place. While the specific details of the conversation remain undisclosed, the message conveyed was crystal clear – the judges unequivocally indicated that the prosecution faces formidable challenges in proving the existence of bribery in Case 4000.
Having been exposed to the majority of the evidence and arguments presented by the prosecution, the judges’ stance does not signify a final decision on the matter. However, it does strongly suggest that they view the prosecution’s case as weak or even nonexistent concerning the primary bribery charges.
That the report was broken by Channel 13, which is no friend of Netanyahu, hints that the story may have been leaked to them by the prosecution who are looking for a way to get out of this failing case.
Up until now, the Attorney General Baharav-Miara, who was appointed by Netanyahu’s nemesis Gideon Sa’ar, has steadfastly rejected any mediation or plea deals involving Netanyahu. Nevertheless, this recent development could precipitate a complete reversal of that stance, and perhaps force the AG to walk back her obstinance.
Even if Netanyahu is found guilty of some of the accusations against him, at the rate his trial is going, it won’t end before 2026 at the earliest; and then Netanyahu would appeal, so that the final verdict in all the cases would not be issued before 2028 or 2029. Netanyahu will be 80 years old and so it’s doubtful he would receive prison time. In addition, he and his lawyers will also litigate the disgrace clause and whether or not it applies in whatever portion of the indictments the court rules against him. It would make so much more sense to drop the whole thing.
The prosecution retains the option to protract the case by pursuing the remaining charges, which they may also struggle to substantiate sufficiently, especially with their reputation battered as it is. Alternatively, they could choose to conclude what has become a national spectacle and put an end to this saga.
But according to reporter Amit Segal on Friday, despite the judges’ recommendation, the AG is interested in continuing with the trial and doesn’t intend to drop the bribery charge.