David Shimron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former attorney and cousin, filed Tuesday a libel suit against a former senior security official who said in a video that he had seen a secret contract drafted by Shimron and signed by the prime minister and his wife that senior appointments in the defense establishment would be brought for Sara Netanyahu's approval.
In the lawsuit filed with the Ramle Magistrate's Court, Shimron is asking 425,000 shekels ($129,000) in compensation for the claims David Artzi, a former official at Israel Aerospace Industries, made in the recently release video.
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Artzi is heard telling journalist Dan Raviv in the video that during Netanyahu's first tenure as prime minister, he had seen an agreement drawn up by Shimron. According to Artzi, the agreement stipulated that the appointments of the army chief of steff, head of the Shin Bet security service and Mossad director require the approval of Sara Netanyahu. She would also be allowed to take part in secret meetings, Artzi said in the clip.
Artzi claims that Shimron showed him the document at a time in which he represented the philanthropist Gita Sherover, with the purpose of getting Artzi to convince Sherover to reconsider Shimron’s dismissal. Shimron denies these allegations.
“The video is an utter lie, it is entirely composed of serious libel agaisnt the prime minister, his wife and the plaintiff,” Shimron wrote in the lawsuit. “This is a completely fallacious publication, constituting a patent lie.”
Shimron argues that the video has had hundreds of thousands of views and that in interviews Artzi “reiterates the libel, aggravating his initial comments.” Among other issues, argues Shimron, the video portrays him as “a miserable, spineless person, who is pleading with Artzi to act to give him back his livelihood.
Artzi, a childhood friend of Raviv, told Haaretz last Thursday that a group of former Israel Defense Forces officers is responsible for funding the distribution of the video, but said that he vowed not to reveal the identities of these officers.
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“I told him [Raviv] about this by chance at a coffee shop in Kfar Shmaryahu. We were talking about philanthropists, and then I said: 'Danny, I never told you the story about Shimron and Gita,'" Artzi told Haaretz. "Raviv replied: 'David, you can’t keep something like that to yourself. The people of Israel need to know this.' And then he started putting things into motion," Artzi said.