Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Charles Dharapak)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, filed a NIS 3.5 million
libel suit against Channel 10 and two of its reporters, Raviv Druker and Mickey
Rosenthal, on Tuesday, following last week’s broadcast of allegations that
Netanyahu billed two organizations for flights the couple took in
This is the third libel suit filed by Netanyahu against news
organizations over alleged libels committed in their reporting of the “Bibi
PM sues Channel 10, Maariv over 'Bibi-Tours’ reports
Likud: We have proof PM never double-billed flights
At a press conference in Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s lawyer
David Shimron outlined the lawsuit, pointing to 15 allegations made by the
reporters that Netanyahu’s lawyers said were false. The allegations that Shimron
spoke of were all broadcast on channel 10 investigative news program Hamakor
during two segments stretching over three weeks.
Shimron called the case
“the most grievous and harmful case of libel since the 1950s.”
segments of the show were full of libels from start to finish – a series of
untrue slanders that are malicious and in some cases professionally negligent in
the extreme,” said Shimron.
The lawsuit states that the respondents
maliciously slandered Netanyahu and his wife, relying on made-up stories, lies,
distorted facts and insinuations to pass on a “partial, slanted and distorted
message with the aim of smearing, humiliating and ridiculing the plaintiffs,
degrading them in public, attributing to them behaviors and characteristics and
endangering the prime minister’s administration and functioning.”
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lawsuit claims that the respondents completely ignored Netanyahu’s continuous
advocacy work on behalf of Israel on the trips he made abroad, and that the
standard of accommodation the couple enjoyed on their trips was on par with that
enjoyed by former heads of state. The lawsuit denied all the accusations
regarding the double-billing alleged in the second segment, as well as the
questions raised over possible ethical violations committed by Netanyahu in
accepting benefits from wealthy-foreign associates, which appeared in the
The libel suit also denied that Netanyahu had provided assistance
to his associates in exchange for the benefits they bestowed on him and his
As part of the blanket denial, Netanyahu’s lawyers also addressed
the claim that Sara Netanyahu had taken dirty laundry from her home to have dry
cleaned at the hotels where the family stayed, and that Netanyahu had lied about
a book he read.
The lawyers presented reporters with a PowerPoint
presentation, featuring the allegation, the explanation and the proof they had
to back up the denial.
Channel 10 said it stood behind everything aired
on the show and that it had given Netanyahu ample time to respond to its
questions and correct any mistakes.
Shimron confirmed that questions had
been received from Hamakor
reporters, but claimed that Channel 10 refused to
hand over the alleged proof, because it didn’t want to reveal its
“Despite the detailed answers they were given, the respondents
hurried to publish the slandering and abusive stories, knowing full well they
were completely baseless,” read the statement of claim.
lawyers wrote that the prime minister was aware of the importance of media
criticism, but that a line needed to be drawn on publishing untrue
Shimron said he was waiting for a retraction and an apology to be
aired on Channel 10.
Netanyahu’s two previous libel lawsuits, seeking
damages of NIS 1 million from Channel 10 and Ma’ariv
, were over follow-up
reporting conducted by the news organizations after the airing of the first Bibi
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has already began a
probe into the travel practices of senior Israeli officials – a probe that
initially was supposed to focus on Netanyahu alone – but which was expanded to
include all current and former presidents, ministers and opposition heads of the
last two governments.
Kadima filed a formal complaint about Netanyahu’s
alleged double-billing to the attorney-general. It remains to be seen whether an
investigation will follow.
The lawsuit came attached with dozens of
documents, which Netanyahu’s lawyers argue prove that the allegations were
false. The documents include correspondence between Druker and Shimron, letters
and sworn statements from businessmen and organization heads, flight receipts,
trip itineraries and transcripts.
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