Netanyahu Files $3.5 Million Libel Suit Over 'Bibi-Tours' Allegations

Prime Minister's lawyer says Netanyahu suing Channel 10 for claiming he had billed his travels to two different entities, calling the claims 'unrelenting malicious mudslinging.'

Haaretz Service
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Haaretz Service

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara filed a libel suit at Jerusalem District Court on Tuesday, demanding NIS 3.5 million in damages from Channel 10 television and its reporters Raviv Drucker and Mikki Rosenthal.

The suit follows a report on the channel's program "The Source," which claimed that Netanyahu had claimed expenses for a trip abroad from two separate sources.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara en route for Washington last year.Credit: Government Press Office

Netanyahu's lawyer, David Shimron, said after the suit was filed that "never since the 1950s, has there been such a grievous case of libel."

"The investigation, such as it was, by 'The Source' was unrelenting malicious mudslinging from start to finish," Shimron added.

According to the lawsuit, the "Heritage organization and the Ashdod Medical Center are the same entity legally functioning under two different names," adding that the organization paid for a New York trip and did so "only once."

The Channel 10 report was the second part of an expose which last month revealed that Netanyahu took several trips abroad that were subsidized by wealthy backers and associates during his stint as finance minister and an MK.

Speaking during a press conference in Berlin following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu responded to the Channel 10 allegations, saying it was "saddening that during an important official Israeli visit I need to respond to the slander of a handful of bodies in Israel which want to harm me for political reasons."

"There was no double-billing – not even a single shekel – not on a single occasion," Netanyahu said, adding that "we have all the documents that show this. On Sunday we intend to file a detailed libel suit. This is pitiful slander and I hope that there will be an apology the same size as the slanderous headlines."

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