Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke some 200 times to then-Israel Hayom editor Amos Regev and 100 times to the newspaper’s owner, Sheldon Adelson, between 2012 and 2015, Netanyahu revealed on his Facebook page Thursday night.
The revelations were required by the Supreme Court after the prime minister lost a court case to Channel 10 reporter Raviv Drucker. The court also required the prime minister to reveal the timing of the calls, in order to help determine Netanyahu’s impact on the newspaper’s headlines, but he has not yet submitted that information.
“Everyone knows that all politicians in Israel speak to publishers, editors and journalists,” Netanyahu wrote. “There is a constant discourse between politicians and the press, as is accepted in a democracy.”
Netanyahu posted a video of the Zionist Union’s strategist in the 2015 campaign, Tami Shienkman, speaking on Election Day to an editor of the Ynet website about a headline. The clip ironically came from a television show hosted by Drucker and a report by journalist Anat Goren, the mother of Drucker’s four sons.
The prime minister said Adelson was a close friend for some 30 years and Regev edited the most-read newspaper in Israel. He said he opposed on principle the demand to reveal conversations between politicians and the press and that is why he appealed the court’s decision, but that if he loses, he expects that a uniform standard be applied to all politicians and the press.
Netanyahu lashed out at the press for half an hour in a speech at a pre-Rosh Hashana toast with Likud members on Wednesday night at Airport City near Ben-Gurion Airport.
Likud MK Bennie Begin criticized him on Thursday morning in an interview on Army Radio with journalist Ilana Dayan, who herself has clashed with the prime minister.
“There is truth to some of the criticism of the press by Netanyahu, but the media are varied and balanced,” Begin said, adding that he did not attend the event because he believed the concept of being loyal to his party’s leader was “nonsense.”
Another Likud MK who preferred to remain nameless said the speech was “embarrassing, unstatesmanlike, not particularly smart, not the speech of a leader” and made the MK feel very uncomfortable.
Netanyahu’s speech also faced criticism from former prime minister Ehud Barak, who said the prime minister displayed three P’s: Panicking, paranoia and psychosis.
“This is what the prime minister deals with?” Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid asked on Army Radio. “The prime minister is crying about bad things being written about him. He is not a victim. I also get attacked in the press. Freedom of expression is not intended for what is comfortable but for what is difficult to hear.”
Lawyers of Netanyahu’s former house manager
Meni Naftali, whom the prime minister attacked at length in the speech, sent a letter threatening to sue him for libel and obstructing justice in the ongoing court case between them. The lawyers wrote that Netanyahu threatened potential witnesses with public shaming.