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Netanyahu trial: Former spokesman says bribery plot hatched at secret meeting

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Netanyahu trial: Former spokesman says bribery plot hatched at secret meeting
Nir Hefetz, a former spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is seen outside a courthouse in Jerusalem, Israel, during Netanyahu's corruption trial on November 16. Photo by Jack Guez/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 22 (UPI) -- A spokesman for former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered his delayed testimony in Netanyahu's corruption trial on Monday, and described a secret meeting that focused on a bribery plot.

Originally supposed to testify last week, Nir Hefetz told the Jerusalem court that precautions were taken to hide the secret meeting between Netanyahu and Shaul Elovitch, owner of Israeli news outlet Bezeq-Walla.

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Hefetz said that after the meeting, he and other aides were given instructions about handling media coverage and regulatory issues.

Netanyahu is accused of taking bribes in exchange for positive media coverage.

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Hefetz said that Elovitch had given him a document detailing his demands for Netanyahu, including changes in telecommunications policy, and asked for a meeting with the prime minister.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves the courthouse in Jerusalem, Israel, during his corruption trial on November 16. Photo by Jack Guez/UPI

"I did not want to [give Netanyahu the document]," Hefetz said, according to The Guardian. "I did not think the message should be conveyed. I did not really understand the regulatory issues.

"[Netanyahu] took the pages, read them and then shredded them. He picked up the phone to the secretary and asked for an appointment to be made with Elovitch."

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Calling Netanyahu "way beyond a control freak," Hefetz said the former prime minister was obsessed with every detail of his media coverage, often at the expense of important issues.

Netanyahu's corruption trial started last year while the Israeli government was in a state of political limbo following multiple national elections that failed to produce a coalition government.

Former Netanyahu supporter Naftali Bennett became prime minister earlier this year after another election and a coalition agreement that drove Netanyahu from office.

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