Benjamin Netanyahu - Emil Salman - 9.1.2012
Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo by Emil Salman
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A confirmation of the deal between Dror Eydar and the PMO
A confirmation of the deal between Dror Eydar and the PMO.

A senior columnist for the Yisrael Hayom newspaper is on the payroll of the Prime Minister's Office, with which he has a contract to "write speeches and lectures," for NIS 50,000 a year, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday.

Dror Eydar has written about everything related to the assault on various media outlets in Israel, and frequently pens columns accusing the media of being hostile to Netanyahu. Yisrael Hayom, owned by American Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is considered to have a right-wing, pro-Netanyahu slant. Adelson has contributed considerable sums of money to Netanyahu's election campaigns.

The Prime Minister's Office said that Eydar does not write speeches for Netanyahu, but is engaged "by a different unit in the Prime Minister's Office." Haaretz has learned that Eydar wrote speeches and lectures for Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon, whose ministry is considered a sub-unit of the Prime Minister's Office.

The contract revealed by Channel 10 runs from December 1, 2011 to November 30, 2012. Eydar told Channel 10 that he had also received payments from the Prime Minister's Office in the past as an adviser on issues relating to Evangelical Christians.

Vice PM Moshe Ya'alon's office said in response that Eydar aided in the preparation of speeches due to his previous acquaintance with Ya'alon, before the latter entered politics. It said that the communication with Eydar was organized and was approved by the appropriate channels. The statement also mentioned that today, one of Ya'alon's advisers writes his speeches and that Eydar no longer does so.

Several days ago, blogger Yossi Gurvitz revealed that the Prime Minister's Office also employs Uri Elitzur, the deputy editor of right-wing paper Makor Rishon, to write speeches. Elitzur, who served as Netanyahu's bureau chief during the latter's first term as prime minister, receives a symbolic wage of one shekel a year.

The Prime Minister's Bureau confirmed that Elitzur had written speeches for Netanyahu, but added, "Of the hundreds of speeches the prime minister gave in 2011, only 24 were written with the help of outside sources."