Avi Benayahu, the former chief spokesman for the Israeli army. asked the Central District Court on Thursday to amend a libel lawsuit to include Ilan Shiloah, the CEO of the local affiliate of the McCann Erickson advertising agency. The claim is based on an ad featuring Benayahu that appeared in Haaretz and in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper in 2011.
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In his motion, Benayahu also asks to drop the newspapers from the lawsuit.
The newspapers and McCann Erickson had been named as defendants in the original suit, but since the case was filed, Shiloah submitted an affidavit to the court acknowledging that he ordered and funded the advertisement.
The ad was signed “Citizens who do not personally know Galant.” It alleged that the “putsch in the Defense Ministry has (apparently) succeeded,” a reference to alleged efforts to scuttle the appointment of Yoav Galant as Israel Defense Forces chief of staff to succeed Gabi Ashkenazi.
Benayahu was featured in the ad, along with Ashkenazi and Boaz Harpaz.
The so-called Harpaz affair arose out of a forged document intended to foil Galant's bid to become chief of staff. In the end, Galant was passed over for the appointment in favor of the current IDF chief, Benny Gantz, due to initial concerns that Galant had made improper use of land in the moshav where he resides.
The request to drop Haaretz and Yedioth Aharonoth follows the newspapers' response to the lawsuit, in which they stated they had no involvement in the content of the ad. Benayahu is now taking the position that it is clear McCann Erickson and Shiloah were behind the advertisement, and it is they who should be the focus of the suit.