During YouTube interview PM debunks 'Bibi-Tours'

In rare online interview, Netanyahu addresses probe into travel funding, Gazan engineer snatched in Ukraine, bringing Gilad Schalit home.

Netanyahu smiling 311 (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Netanyahu smiling 311
(photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu tried to go over the heads of the traditional media on Wednesday, fielding questions in a joint Channel 2/YouTube interview, and reacting for the first time to the abduction of Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi and to Channel 10's "Bibi-Tours" reports.
Netanyahu spent an hour - half the time in Hebrew - answering questions posed on YouTube and Facebook from Israelis, and half the time in English answering questions posed form some 90 countries around the world – as part of YouTube's World View Project that invites local and world viewers to pose questions to world leaders.
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The program invites local and world viewers to pose questions to world leaders.
When asked about kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit during the Hebrew segment, Netanyahu was probed further by Channel 2’s Dana Weiss regarding whether Abu Sisi’s abduction was somehow related to Schalit – as has been claimed in media reports abroad.
“Abu Sisi is a Hamas man,” Netanyahu said. “He is being held in Israeli jail legally and according to all the rules. I don’t want to relate to this in the context of Gilad Schalit or any other context. I can only say that he has provided valuable information.”
Netanyahu would not reveal anything further about that information.
Regarding allegations that Netanyahu took flights abroad with his wife Sara funded by private businessmen in the late 1990s and 2000s, Netanyahu said these reports were part of an orchestrated and organized campaign against him.
He said the reports, which he characterized as distorted, were tainted by “hypocrisy,” and that he was being judged by a different standard than used for other former prime ministers, presidents, ministers and Knesset members.
The worst thing about the reports, he said, was that in order to harm him, certain journalists attack his wife.
“I want to tell all those journalists – or part of them who are working against me – this won’t help you. This is malicious, it is hypocritical – but I will remain here for many more years. I won’t change my positions, and I will continue to lead the country,” he said defiantly.
Netanyahu added that, unlike the previous government – when five people from the government and the governing party, Kadima, were placed on trial – no one from his government has gone through that ordeal. “There is a difference,” he said.
Some 3,670 questions were submitted to Netanyahu – either via YouTube or Facebook – from people around the world, including Libya, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Netanyahu was the third leader to take part in the YouTube program, following US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron. Some 140,000 questions were asked of Obama, and 10,000 of Cameron.
Questions can be submitted through http://www.youtube.com/user/worldview.