Netanyahu, Israeli TV Channel Settle 'Bibi-Tours' Libel Case Out of Court

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
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Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

Benjamin Netanyahu and Channel 10 have reached a deal to settle the libel suits the prime minister filed against the television station. The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court approved the settlement last week.

The suits stemmed from two separate reports by Channel 10 on alleged improprieties in the financing of Netanyahu's overseas trips during the years when he served as leader of the opposition. The reports said the trips were financed by wealthy businessmen and donors from abroad.

Under the settlement, reached through the mediation of former Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or, Netanyahu agreed to withdraw both suits. In exchange, Channel 10 acknowledged this as a generous gesture meant solely to spare the financially troubled station further difficulties at a time when its very survival is in doubt.

Channel 10, the agreement stated, asked the prime minister and his wife, Sara, "as a gesture not to proceed with the suits against it right now, but to withdraw them, out of consideration for the difficult situation of the media market in general, and of Channel 10 in particular, and in light of the severe economic difficulties in which Channel 10 is mired. The prime minister and his wife acceded to this request, and as a gesture to Channel 10, they hereby request to withdraw both suits."

However, the document continued, the Netanyahus reserve the right to refile should they see fit.

The agreement also includes a promise from Channel 10 regarding future coverage of the prime minister and his wife: "The defendants clarify that they will treat the Netanyahus in a fair and businesslike manner, in accordance with their policy toward the other people and organizations they cover."

In addition to the station itself, the other defendants were the head of its news company, Uri Rozen, its website Nana10 and reporter Raviv Drucker. The suits sought NIS 3.5 million in damages over the two reports, which aired in March and April 2011.

A separate libel suit filed by Sara Netanyahu against the daily Maariv and reporter Ben Caspit is still pending in the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court. That suit is over Caspit's report that upon entering the prime minister's official residence, the Netanyahus fired the 70-year-old gardener - a claim they deny.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the Knesset, October 15, 2012.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

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