Nir Hefetz’s services were sought due to his relationship to Netanyahu
The media consultant, a suspect in Case 4000 and Case 1270, is one of Netanyahu's closest confidants. He was allegedly sought out by many businessmen and major companies to advance their interests based on his close relationship with the PM.
Among the suspects in Case 4000 (the Bezeq corruption affair) and the new Case 1270 (attempt to bribe District Court President judge Hila Gerstl with appointment to attorney general in return for tossing out a case against the prime minister's wife Sara Netanyahu) one name stands out: Nir Hefetz.
Hefetz, who until recently was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s media adviser, is considered one of Netanyahu’s closest confidants and was often at the forefront defending the Netanyahu family in various media appearances.
Hefetz worked for the Netanyahus from 2014 to 2017. During that period, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira uncovered irregularities in the administration of the Prime Minister’s Residence, leading police to launch a criminal investigation.
A source working at the residence at that time told Calcalist that Hefetz "assisted Sara in withstanding the media pressure and served as a personal bodyguard of sorts to her. He invested a lot more work than would have been expected of him as the prime minister’s spokesman.”
Hefetz’s relationship with the Netanyahu family began in 2009, when he was appointed head of the National Hasbara Forum after leaving his post at Yedioth Ahronoth. In December 2010, he left that position as well.
In March 2011, he was appointed special adviser to businessman Nochi Dankner and the IDB Group, which the latter headed at the time. When Dankner purchased the Ma’ariv newspaper half a year later, Hefetz was appointed editor. In November 2012, he left that position after businessman Shlomo Ben Zvi purchased Ma’ariv.
It was at that time when Hefetz began consulting for businessmen and politicians, including during the period in which he served as the prime minister’s family’s spokesman.
One of his clients was Gindi Investments, after the December 2013 incident in which balconies of not-yet occupied apartments built by the company collapsed onto the apartments below them. Hefetz brought in Zvi Hauser, then Cabinet Secretary, to carry out negotiations with the tenants.
Another client of Hefetz was MK Meir Sheetrit, who at the time was running for president. In a 2014 interview with Calcalist, Sheetrit said, “Hefetz was my personal spokesman during the elections, which lasted two or three months, together with other media consultants from other offices.”
In 2015, when Netanyahu served as the health minister in addition to being prime minister, reports emerged that Hefetz served as a paid consultant for four health companies: Assuta Medical Center, the Medical Tourism Association of Israel, the medical logistics company Sarel, and the medical equipment company Tzamal.
These companies made use of Hefetz’s services in the aftermath of the conclusions issued by the German Commission, which recommended certain changes in the health system, including strengthening the public health system, and restraining private health systems and medical tourism.
The German Commission conclusions were shelved after the coalition government fell apart at the end of 2014. However, Hefetz continued consulting for some of the companies even after the 2015 election, when Netanyahu continued serving as health minister until the appointment of MK Yaakov Litzman as deputy health minister with a minister's authority.
Over the years, Hefetz served as a consultant for various companies and businessmen in real estate, advertising, transportation and media. “Whoever sought him was not seeking a creative mind but rather proximity to Netanyahu and Likud ministers,” said a media source.
“The Nakash brothers hired him under the pretenses of a consultant for Arkia Aviation in order to delay the closure of Sde Dov Tel Aviv Airport and apply pressure on Netanyahu and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz; as far as they were concerned, the closure of the small airfield would be a death blow for Arkia,” the source said.
Arkia confirmed that Hefetz served as a consultant from August 2016 to February 2017, which was when the state petitioned the High Court of Justice, asking to delay the halt of civilian flights at Sde Dov for another half a year in order to work out an arrangement that would allow the airport to operate until the end of 2018.
In 2016, Hefetz worked with China Harbor, the corporation building a private port at Ashdod. In September 2014, the company secured a tender from the Israel Ports Authority. Netanyahu signed the deal at a celebratory event attended by Transportation Minister Katz, and then-finance minister Yair Lapid.
The new port under construction encountered several regulatory setbacks that cast doubt upon its feasibility. At one point, the government refused visas to Chinese workers who were meant to be employed at the port. Other obstacles were presented by the well-established Ashdod Port, which sees the project as unwanted competition.
The Beitar Jerusalem Club also hired Hefetz in June 2017, in an effort to improve the soccer team's public image in light of accusations of racism, and to encourage tolerance among its fans.
A statement issued on behalf of Nir Hefetz noted that all the conflict of interest agreements were examined and approved by the proper authorities.