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Netanyahu’s lawyers grill ex-CEO of news site over ties with other politicians

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Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense lawyers on Tuesday cross-examined a key witness in his corruption trial for a second day, seeking to poke holes in prosecutors’ accusation that the ex-premier received particularly beneficial coverage from a leading news site as part of an alleged quid pro quo.

The trial resumed Monday following a three-month pause as prosecutors asked for more time to gather all relevant materials demanded by the defense from the phone of Ilan Yeshua, former CEO of the Walla news site.

Yeshua, the first witness to testify in the trial, is a top witness in Case 4000, which addresses allegations that Netanyahu approved regulatory decisions that financially benefited the controlling shareholder of Bezeq telecom, Shaul Elovitch, in exchange for positive coverage from the Bezeq-owned Walla.

The defense has been trying to show that, contrary to what Yeshua has been saying in court, orders to rewrite certain news stories or give them greater or less visibility on the site were commonplace not only in the case of Netanyahu but also came from other politicians, businessmen and companies.

Like in most past hearings, Netanyahu was not present in the courtroom Tuesday, having been granted an exemption.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Netanyahu’s attorneys questioned Yeshua over 2016 correspondence concerning Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman, who was the defense minister at the time.

“[Elovitch] gave me an instruction not to harm the Russian,” Yeshua told the court in reference to Liberman, who was born........

© The Times of Israel

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