Secret recordings between Benjamin Netanyahu and an Israeli newspaper owner at the centre of corruption allegations have been broadcast on Israeli TV.
The prime minister is heard in conversation with Yediot Ahronot publisher Arnon ‘Noni’ Mozes in late 2014, in the run-up to a general election in early 2015.
Netanyahu is heard talking about brokering a sale of the paper to wealthy foreign associates, while Mozes is heard offering to report negative stories about Netanyahu’s political rivals.
Dealings between the two are at the centre of Case 2000, one of several investigations into Netanyahu and his wife Sara by Israel’s police and national prosecutors. Lawyers for the PM are still hoping he will not face any trials.
Although parts of the recording had previously been leaked, the airing of the extended conversation on Israel’s Channel 13 set analysts’ tongue wagging, not least because of the timing.
Netanyahu’s Likud began negotiating the terms of a “national unity government” with Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid from the Blue and White party just hours before Channel 13 aired the tapes, and Netanyahu is due to be indicted next month.
Gantz has long said he could not share power with Netanyahu, 70, while fraud and breach of trust charges still hang over the prime minister, and pressure is now growing on Likud to ditch the man who has led them for the last two decades.
In a further blow to Netanyahu, Israeli media reported on Sunday that his spokesman and a senior Likud official had been questioned by police on suspicion of harassing Moshe Filber, a key state witness against the PM in Case 4000. Likud in turn criticised Israeli police for intercepting their mobile phones.