Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will face renewed pressure on the back of ongoing corruption allegations after the contents of a damaging leaked audiotape were revealed.
The tape, reported by Israeli media, purports to show Netanyahu having a conversation with media tycoon Arnon Mozes, publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, in which certain quid pro quo agreements were made.
In return for more favourable press coverage, Netanyahu allegedly promised Mozes, he would stifle the circulation of the free daily newspaper Israel Hayom – Mozes's biggest rival.
Israel Hayom was launched in 2007 and is now Israel's largest newspaper, significantly eating into Yedioth Ahronoth's profits.
The taped conversations were brought to the attention of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit months ago, reported Haaretz.
Israeli media had previously reported that Mozes was questioned in relation to Netanyahu's corruption allegations, but the existence of an audiotape was not known at the time.
Haaretz also reported that in August, Netanyahu said he was considering promoting a bill that would bar recordings of conversations without consent from all the parties involved.
Among the corruption allegations that Netanyahu faces are that he accepted large sums of money from convicted French fraudster Arnaud Mimran. In July, Mimran was jailed for eight years and fined €1m (£850,000) for carbon-tax fraud, which French media described as the "sting of the century".
Netanyahu's deal with Mozes was struck despite his close relationship with Sheldon Adelson, the American casino magnate who owns Israel Hayom.
His right-leaning paper was nicknamed the "Bibiton" – combining Netanyahu's nickname and the Israeli word for newspaper – for its uncritical coverage of the prime minister.
Adelson, like Netanyahu, is also a strong supporter of president-elect Donald Trump. In the US presidential race he was Trump's biggest donor, contributing $25m (£20.33m) to his campaign.
Netanyahu has consistently denied the corruption allegations, repeatedly stating that "nothing will come to light".