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Israel: Proof Netanyahu knew his lawyer hired intel firm to spy on Gantz

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestuers supporters after speaking at a Likud Party gathering on 17 November 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. [Amir Levy/Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on 17 November 2019 [Amir Levy/Getty Images]

A newly-revealed document proves Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was aware that business intelligence firm CGI Group “had been hired to spy” on Blue and White chair Benny Gantz.

The document, obtained by Haaretz’s business daily the Marker, reveals that “Netanyahu’s lawyer Yossi Cohen promised the prime minister that the company would try to gather material on alleged ties between Gantz and a [fellow Blue and White] Knesset member…Omer Yankelevich.”

According to the report, the document is the first concrete evidence that “Netanyahu was personally involved in the effort”.

Ever since the election exit polls came out on Monday night, rumours – fuelled by remarks by Likud MK Miki Zohar – have circulated that Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) is contacting legislators who might defect to Likud.

Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson, meanwhile, “reported that Likud had threatened Yankelevich with the release of embarrassing details about her personal life if she did not defect.”

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“The new information shows that Netanyahu personally knew about the efforts to gather materials on a legislator now coming under pressure from Likud,” the report added.

Last week, it was reported by the Marker that Cohen had approached CGI in recent weeks to spy on Blue and White “in order to obtain embarrassing information on Gantz”.

CGI was paid hundreds of thousands of shekels, with payments being made through a firm described by Cohen as “Likud’s computing company”, and run out of a private apartment in Petah Tikva.

Interestingly, CGI is the same company that Blue and White hired in September 2019, “just before the Knesset election that month”, to investigate whether the mobile phones of senior party officials – including Gantz – had been hacked. Once again, CGI was paid hundreds of thousands of shekels.

Haaretz explained that after ties between Blue and White and CGI had been severed, “Cohen contacted Zvi Naveh, one of CGI’s owners, with whom he was on friendly terms”, proposing that Naveh “cross over to Likud for the election campaign that ended this week”.

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