Former PM aide who turned state witness tells police he was 'used as a pawn'

Shlomo Filber, the former head of the Ministry of Communications, told police investigators he had been appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the sole purpose of promoting benefits to Bezeq and other companies in order to guarantee favorable media coverage for Netanyahu and his family.
Photo credit: Miriam Alster, Flash 90

A day after the Israel Police signed a deal with Shlomo Filber, a former confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to testify against him in a corruption investigation, Israel News Company on Wednesday exposed parts of Filber's testimony.

Police believe that Filber, who headed the Ministry of Communications, promoted regulatory benefits to telecommunications company Bezeq in exchange for favorable coverage for Netanyahu and his family on a leading Israeli news site owned by Bezeq's chief shareholder.

"At first I thought (Netanyahu) gave me the job out of appreciation, but today I realize I was used as a pawn in a game," Filber reportedly told the police.

"I was carrying out direct orders given by Netanyahu, it wasn't even up to me," he added. "I received detailed instructions from him, he told me whose interests to promote and how."

Filber also told the police investigators about his dismissal after upsetting Netanyahu's wife, Sara, during a trip to Italy. At the end of a meeting between Netanyahu and his then-Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi, the latter, according to Filber, gave Netanyahu an expensive watch as a gift.

"I was Netanyahu's advisor, and I told him 'You can't take this watch. Give it to me, I'll report it and deposit it,'" Filber said. "Later that day, just hours after the meeting, I was called into the Netanyahus' room. Sara screamed at me and said she wanted the watch back. … (Netanyahu) was present when this happened and said nothing."

"Two weeks later, Netanyahu called me in for a meeting and fired me after telling me, "I need someone more professional than you."



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