Yair Netanyahu Fails to Pay Court-imposed Penalty in Libel Case

The mutual suit between the prime minister's son and progressive think tank Molad has been going on for three years - and has yet to move to the evidentiary stage

Bar Peleg
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Yair Netanyahu, left, and Attorney Yossi Cohen in the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, 2018.
Yair Netanyahu, left, and Attorney Yossi Cohen in the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, 2018. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, failed to pay the 500 shekels (around $150) in legal expenses he was ordered to give to Molad, a progressive think tank. The two are engaged in a mutual libel case, and neither would comment on the proceedings.

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The court required him to pay the sum last month within 30 days from a hearing he did not attend, despite being ordered to do so. It was supposed to go towards Molad's legal expenses. 

Molad has filed a writ of execution against Netanyahu with the Enforcement and Collection Authority, to force him to pay 1,050 shekels (around $300).

The case has now been going on for three years, but has yet to reach the evidentiary stage. Molad, which full name is The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy, originally sued Netanyahu in August 2017 after he called it a "radical anti-Zionist organization... funded by the Israel Destruction Fund.”

This was after Molad put up a post about Netanyahu entitled “Five things you didn’t know about crown prince Yair Netanyahu.” The post said that Netanyahu does not work and is living at the taxpayers’ expense. Netanyahu later countersued Molad, intending to demonstrate Molad's "powerful and burning hate for Netanyahu and its effort to hurt and humiliate him at any price."

Judge Hanna Klugman tried a number of times to encourage the two sides to reach a compromise, and even wrote out a version of a mutual public apology. Netanyahu’s lawyer rejected it, as did the attorneys representing Molad, Gilead Sher and Eitan Tocker.  In January, the judge once again tried to reach a compromise between the parties and sent the case to a different judge to complete the process. Klugman made it clear that both Netanyahu and the Molad representatives must attend this session.

Despite the judge’s order, Yossi Cohen, the attorney representing Netanyahu, appeared in court alone, incurring the extra penalty. The lawyers for the two sides did not reach agreement during the hearing and the case is now expected to advance to the evidentiary stage.

The Molad institute said: “We are unable to comment on details of the proceeding being conducted in court, but it is not difficult to see that Yair Netanyahu treats the court with the same childish contempt that characterizes his attitude toward the institutions and the citizens of the State of Israel.”

Yossi Cohen, the attorney representing Netanyahu, declined to respond to questions from Haaretz.

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