A recording emerged yesterday of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair boasting that his father had set up a $20 billion business deal for businessman and gas tycoon Kobi Maimon.
Published by the Israel Television News Company, the report has stirred renewed controversy at a time when Netanyahu is being investigated on allegations of corruption.
The recording dates back to 2015 when, during a night out, Yair Netanyahu and his friends were reportedly ferried from one strip club to another by Netanyahu’s government-provided security.
“Bro, you got to spot me. My dad made an awesome deal for your dad, bro, he fought, fought in the Knesset for this,” Yair can be heard saying in Hebrew. “My dad set up $20 billion for your dad, and you’re fighting with me about 400 shekels ($115)?”
The 26-year-old later reveals on the recording that the 400 shekels was “ for a prostitute” and can be heard suggesting that he “arrange” a meeting for his friends, adding that he took down a stripper’s phone number.
After a lawyer for the Netanyahu family demanded that the Israel Television News Company not air the tape again, Yair responded to the recording in an official statement last night.
“Tonight I watched a disgraceful, yellow-press report that presented illegal recordings of a conversation that took place two and a half years ago. In a night conversation, under the influence of alcohol, I spoke nonsense about women and other things that were better left unsaid,” the response read.
“In addition, the things I said to Maimon were a dumb joke and joking around with him, as anyone could tell. I never took an interest in the natural-gas framework agreement and never had any idea about its details,” he concluded.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under investigation in a number of cases including one dubbed Case 2000 which sees him face allegations of negotiating a deal for more favourable media coverage with Arnon Mozes, publisher of popular Hebrew-language newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
After grilling Netanyahu six times, last month Israel Police also announced that Case 1000, in which the prime minister is accused of receiving bribes from prominent businessmen, had been strengthened by the testimony of Australian billionaire James Packer.
Packer’s Israeli liaison Roman Abramov is also believed to have been among the group of Yair’s friends in the recording.
Yair has attained a reputation for crass and offensive behaviour and is currently involved in a lawsuit against left-wing think tank Molad for libel. After being rebuked for arriving 45 minutes late to arbitration meeting with representatives of the organisation last week, he reportedly cursed Molad staff and walked out.
He has also been criticised for his activity on social media, after he posted a status deriding American left-wing groups as more dangerous that neo-Nazis, less than a week after the white supremacist terrorist attack in Charlottesville last summer, which left one person dead.
He came under fire again a month later after he posted an anti-Semitic caricature suggesting a conspiracy was behind his family’s growing legal issues. The image was shared by former leader of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke and neo-Nazi news websites.