Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu filed two NIS 1 million libel suits against
Channel 10 and Ma’ariv on Tuesday, accusing them of reporting false information
about him in their coverage of what has come to be known as the “Bibi-Tours”
affair.RELATED:Lindenstrauss: Decision on probe of PM trips this
Last week, Channel 10 investigative reporter Raviv Drucker
reported, on his show Hamakor, on a series of flights that Netanyahu took with
his wife Sara in the late 1990s and early 2000s, flights allegedly paid for by
According to the report, Netanyahu allegedly utilized
a carefully crafted network of wealthy associates to finance private flights,
luxury hotel suites, first-class restaurants, and trips abroad for him and his
family, benefits that the show characterized as ethical infractions.
the wake of the publication, Channel 10 news and other media outlets continued
reporting on alleged wrongdoings by Netanyahu.
In one of the lawsuits
filed in the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, Netanyahu’s lawyers, David Shomron
and Michael Rabello, stated that a news report broadcast on Channel 10 news on
Sunday, in which Drucker revealed an internal list of foreign donors who
promised contributions to Netanyahu’s 2005 Likud primary elections and said that
Netanyahu failed to report the contributions to the state comptroller, was
patently false and that Drucker broadcast the information despite being told
that the information was false by Netanyahu’s attorneys.
claimed that Channel 10 knowingly broadcast a false report with intent of
embarrassing and defaming the prime minister. It drew specific attention to a
statement by Drucker, who said that for actions similar to the ones Netanyahu
allegedly took, others had gone to prison.
The lawyers said that the
funds in question were returned to the donors and that no wrongdoing had taken
“Reference to the prime minister in the said false report was
disparaging and very hurtful, creating a negative portrayal of him and depicting
him as a felon, all in order to humiliate him in public or to make him a target
of contempt or ridicule for alleged actions that are completely without
foundation,” read the statement of claim.
“These publications are part of
a slander campaign the respondents are waging against the
Netanyahu’s lawyers wrote that the prime minister is aware of
the importance of media criticism, but that a line needed to be drawn on
publishing untrue items.
“There is no reason to enable a slander campaign
against the prime minister, in which statements are made about expected
sanctions, when there is no grain of truth to the facts and when the publishers
were told so beforehand,” read the statement.
“It is time for the court
to put an end to the publication of false and irresponsible news reports about
the plaintiff, and make it clear that his name cannot be sullied without having
to take responsibility.”
The second lawsuit, against Ma’ariv, was over an
article and an editorial cartoon that appeared in the paper on
The article indicated that Netanyahu and his wife had held a
dinner costing NIS 60,000 on one of their visits abroad, and that the meal was
part of their overall self-indulgent behavior.
The lawyers argued that
the article, as well as the caricature, which showed Netanyahu walking through
airport Customs carrying a suitcase with large sums of money overflowing from
it, were published with harmful intent, and that Ma’ariv had not even bothered
to ask for Netanyahu’s response.
Both lawsuits stated that Netanyahu
reserved the right to sue over additional libels.
Drucker said in
response to the lawsuit that the Sunday report was neither false nor
“We stated clearly in the broadcast that the document in
question [the list of donors] could be interpreted in several ways. By one
interpretation it would indicate wrongdoing, and by another it could be
innocent. We never presented the document as proving illegalities.
don’t know what Netanyahu’s lawyers are basing their claims on,” said
Drucker added that he found it odd that Netanyahu was choosing
to sue over the Sunday report and not over the original investigation that
appeared on his show last week.
“If this is what he’s suing us over, I
think it’s strange that he’s trying to present it as if he were suing over the
flights story,” he said.
Ma’ariv failed to respond.
week’s report on Channel 10, several bodies – including the Kadima Party – have
urged State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to investigate any possible
wrongdoing by Netanyahu. Lindenstrauss said on Monday that he would decide by
the end of the week whether to launch such an investigation.
NGO the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel sent a letter to the state
comptroller on Tuesday, requesting that while he conducts an investigation into
Netanyahu’s case he should also look into the conduct of other high-ranking
In the letter, written by the group’s director-general Nachi
Eyal, the group asked Lindenstrauss to specifically look into flights made by
President Shimon Peres. The letter cites two occasions on which Peres allegedly
flew to the United States on board the private jet of American businessman
The letter states that Peres flew on Abraham’s private
jet in May 2009 on his way to give a speech to the AIPAC conference and in 2004
for the opening of former US president Bill Clinton’s presidential library in
The letter also states that Peres received $120,000 from
Abraham for the 2005 Labor primary elections and notes that the state
comptroller had written a scathing report on the matter and ordered Peres to
return the money.
The group volunteered its assistance in uncovering
infractions by other public officials.