Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his son Yair.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Tuesday for the first time to embarrassing comments his son was taped uttering two years ago, saying his son’s words were “nonsense” spoken “under the influence of alcohol.”
Yair Netanyahu was recorded in a car in the summer of 2015 after visiting Tel Aviv strip joints making disparaging comments about women and boasting that his father arranged a massive windfall for Kobi Maimon, the father of one of the friends he was talking to in the car, who was involved in a lucrative natural gas deal.
The prime minister, at a meeting in Jerusalem with the ambassadors of NATO states, told reporters that his son had issued an apology for his remarks, and had said that his comments neither reflected who he is or the values he was taught at home.
“He is right,” Netanyahu said. “My wife and I educate our children to respect every person as they are, and every woman as she is, and that is the reason that I fervently oppose the exclusion of women, and have worked in many ways to empower women – in the economy, government, academia, science, the army and air force. Those are the values we believe in, and with which we have educated our children.”
Regarding Yair’s boast to the son of Maimon, a major shareholder in one of the country’s offshore natural gas fields, that the prime minister had arranged a $20 billion deal for him, Netanyahu said that his son knew nothing about the framework gas deal, and was just joking with his friend.
“I acted on the natural-gas issue in the interests of the State of Israel, and we are bringing many billions of shekels from the gas fields into the state’s coffers,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu added that he does not know Kobi Maimon, and only met him once in his life, some 10 years ago.
He said that Maimon actually lost out on profits in the gas deal that was approved.
He said that everyone familiar with the deal knows this, so that claims that he somehow acted for Maimon’s benefit – as some interpreted his son’s words to imply – were “absurd.”
Regarding the broadcast of the tape on Channel 2, Netanyahu said that two other media outlets turned down offers by his son’s driver, who he said taped the conversation, to purchase the tape.
Netanyahu said the driver tried to sell the tape for “thousands of dollars, even tens of thousands of dollars.”
The prime minister said that Channel 2, which touts transparency and the “public’s right to know,” should tell the public whether it paid thousands of shekels for the tape, and if so, why.