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Netanyahu Suing Channel 10, Maariv for Libel Over 'Bibi-Tours' Allegations

According to the suit, the report was published despite Netanyahu clearly stating prior to publication that its claims are without foundation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu filed two libel lawsuits with the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court yesterday - for NIS 1 million each - against Channel 10 and Maariv.

Netanyahu's attorney David Shimron filed the first lawsuit against the Channel 10 News Company, journalist Raviv Drucker, editor Uri Rozen and the Nana 10 company - which alleges they were all party to publishing a false report using a document listing everyone who contributed and promised to contribute to Netanyahu's primary election campaign in 2005.

Netanyahu - Reuters

According to the suit, the report was published despite Netanyahu clearly stating prior to publication that its claims were without foundation.

Among other claims, the lawsuit argues that the report highlighted two donations made by the Falik family for $7,500 each - even though it was made clear to the channel before the report's broadcast that the $15,000 was returned to the family in December 2005.

"The treatment of the prime minister in this fraudulent report was degrading and offensive," the lawsuit said, "creating a negative image and presenting his as an offender in a manner meant to humiliate him ... for actions attributed to him without foundation."

The prime minister filed a second, separate lawsuit yesterday, against the daily newspaper Maariv, its reporters Noam Sharvit and Eli Bernstein, editor-in-chief Avi Meshulam, and cartoonist Moshik Levi.

In the suit, Netanyahu protests a report published in Maariv on March 27, saying its headline implies that the cost of a single dinner held by the Netanyahu couple reached $60,000, and that similar meals are a regular part of their travel abroad.

The prime minister argues that he and his wife have never held a dinner that cost anywhere near the amount cited by the headline in question.

Levi, the cartoonist, is being sued for drawing Netanyahu passing through the "nothing to declare" area in customs with dollar bills falling out of his luggage.

The lawsuit alleges that the respondents did not bother to ask for a comment from Netanyahu before publishing the report.

Maariv did not respond to a request for comments. Channel 10 said yesterday that it will respond to the allegations in court.