Netanyahu Says Lines Have Been Crossed With Son's Strip Club Tape; Justice Minister Proposes Banning Secret Recordings

Netanyahu's son was recorded telling an Israeli gas tycoon's son at a strip club: My dad set your dad up for $20b, give me $115 for a prostitute

Yair Netanyahu votes on March 9, 2017, while his parents, Benjamin and Sara, look on.
URIEL SINAI-POOL / AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that the media paying tens of thousands of shekels for the tape of his son Yair at a strip club has "crossed a line."

>>'God help us if this gets out': The full transcript of Yair Netanyahu's wild Tel Aviv night

Speaking at a conference alongside Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, the prime minister said that the media had "crossed a line" in paying 60,000 shekels ($17,500) for a secret recording, and added that law enforcement should look into the matter. Shaked responded that the government could pass a legislative amendment that would prohibit secret recordings.

In Israel, a recording requires the consent of only one party. A recording of two or more parties when neither is aware of it is considered illegal wiretapping, punishable by up to five years in prison. The legality of such recordings in the U.S. is similar, except for 12 states in which the consent of both parties is required.

Following Netanyahu's comments, Culture Minister Miri Regev said "All of us here are threatened ... you can't walk around without someone recording you," adding that a commission of inquiry should be established.

On Tuesday, Netanyahu said that he and his wife Sara had raised their children to respect women, after a recording of his son Yair talking to his friends at a strip club was revealed a day earlier.

Yair was recorded telling the son of Israeli businessman and gas tycoon Kobi Maimon outside a strip club that the prime minister set up $20 billion for the latter's father, according to a report on Israel Television News Company Monday.

My dad set up 20 billion dollars for your dad, and youre fighting with me about 400 shekels [about $115]? said Yair in the 2015 recording of the conversation with his friend, upon leaving the strip club. Netanyahu later said the 400 shekels was for a prostitute.

Netanyahu said that his son was under the influence of alcohol in the recording. He continued that the idea that he gave Maimon preferrential treatment was absurd, adding that he had no idea that their children were friends.

A lawyer for Netanyahu's family on Monday demanded the Israel Television News Company not air the tape in which Yair was heard talking to his friends outside a strip club.

"Tonight I watched a disgraceful, yellow-press report that presented illegal recordings of a conversation that took place two and a half years ago. In a night conversation, under the influence of alcohol, I spoke nonsense about women and other things that were better left unsaid," Yair Netanyahu said in a response issued Monday night.

"These remarks do not reflect who I am, the values on which I was raised and my beliefs. I regret the remarks and apologize if anyone was hurt by them. In addition, the things I said to Maimon were a dumb joke and joking around with him, as anyone could tell. I never took an interest in the natural-gas framework agreement and never had any idea about its details," the statement said.

At a lunch meeting with ambassadors from NATO countries and Greece at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, Netanyahu continued to address the subject, saying: This is why I strenuously object to the exclusion of women, trying to find ways of empowering women in many areas, in the economy, in government, in academia, science, the army, the air force – these are the values we believe in and which we instill in our children. He added that these were the values in the light of which he believed all Israeli children should be educated.

With regard to ties between his son Yair and the son of natural gas tycoon Kobi Maimon, Netanyahu commented: I have no connection to Kobi Maimon, I think Ive only met him once in my life, ten years ago. I have no ties to him and I dont know of any ties between Yair and his son.

The natural gas deal opened up the market to competition, by opening up new fields, the largest and most important of which is Leviathan. All shareholders in the Tamar field hold shares in Leviathan, except one person- Kobi Maimon. Every Israeli citizen benefits from the gas deal except one person – Kobi Maimon said Netanyahu, adding: Did you know that? No, and I can tell you that Yair also didnt know about it. He didnt have a clue about the whole thing and what he said he said under the influence of alcohol, in a pointless joke with a friend. He knew nothing and was just getting high with a friend.

In answering a question about security and transportation arrangements for his son Yair, which are funded by the state, the prime minister said: I think these arrangements are not something that should be discussed publicly. They are made after consideration by professional agencies and  the less we talk about it the better. Regarding the TV release, I dont think it should have been aired.

From what I know a driver in the Prime Ministers Office secretly recorded people who were guarded by bodyguards and then tried to sell the recordings, to at least two media outlets, for thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. These outlets refused, Netanyahu continued. I think Channel 2, which bases itself on public trust and the publics right to know, should tell us if it purchased the secret recording and, if so, how much it paid, he said.

Associates of the prime minister intend to demand that the TV News Company reveal if it paid for the recording and if so, how much it paid. Netanyahu was surprised to learn of its existence when he faced questions about it on Sunday morning. These sources said that the premier knew of his sons friendship with Roman Abramov and was not happy with it. They stressed that Netanyahu did not know about the joint visits to strip clubs with the son of businessman Kobi Maimon.

During the broadcasting of the story about the tape, Netanyahu was at a meeting at the Knesset that dealt with reforms at the Electric Corporation. He left the meeting and went to his room to watch the story on television. He then decided that his son should also issue a statement with an apology over his attitude to women, as it appeared on TV.

Monday nights story broadcast by the TV News Company presented Yair Netanyahu as telling the son of natural gas tycoon Kobi Maimon that the prime minister set up his father with 20 billion dollars. This happened as they were out on the town in Tel Aviv, including visits to strip clubs. My father arranged 20 billion dollars for your father and you cant let me have 400 shekels? Netanyahu was heard telling Maimons son as they exited a strip club. Later Netanyahu said that the money was for that hooker.

Also heard in the recording, which dates back to the summer of 2015, is the son of Kobi Maimon, who is active in real estate and infrastructure and holds shares in Isramco (which holds a large part of the Tamar gas field).

Roman Abramov, the Israeli representative of billionaire James Packer, was also heard in the recording. According to the recording, Abramov and Netanyahu ended the night at Packers apartment at the Royal Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv. A bodyguard and driver in a government car took Netanyahu and friends from one strip club to another.