Netanyahu says leaking controversial audio of son 'crosses all red lines'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said that the leaking of controversial recordings of his son’s jibing remarks, reportedly made outside a Tel Aviv strip club in 2015, “crosses all red lines,” prompting his ministers to draw up legislation that would prevent future leaks.
“This crosses all red lines in regards to security and all red lines in terms of the media,” he told the ministers in a cabinet meeting.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin backed the Prime Minister, suggesting new legislation be drawn up designed to “protect ministers” from similar incidents.
“Nobody can be trusted, not even secretaries,” Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz remarked.
Netanyahu defended his son after the fallout from the released recording earlier this week, saying he was “under the influence of alcohol and has since apologized.”
26-year-old Yair Netanyahu came under fire after Israeli media made the recording public. He's heard asking for cash from a friend whose father, he suggests, has benefited enormously from Netanyahu's passing a multi-billion dollar gas deal through the Knesset.
“My father secured 20 billion dollars for your father, and you’re arguing with me about 400 shekels?" Yair is heard saying in the recording of the conversation with his friend, the son of the son of gas magnate Koby Maimon.
The exchange, where Yair says he needs the money to pay for a sex worker, reportedly took place in 2015 outside a Tel Aviv strip club in an armored, state-funded car, in the presence of a driver and a security detail, according to Israeli media outlet Hadashot News (formerly Channel 2).
Netanyahu was at a meeting in Jerusalem with the ambassadors of NATO countries when he addressed his son’s leaked remarks, explaining that he had raised his two sons to “respect everyone, and to respect every woman. This is also why I vehemently oppose the exclusion of women [from public affairs]. Women should play central roles in academia, science, and the air force. These are the values we believe in.”
The prime minister said that he did not remember the gas tycoon Maimon who benefited from the gas deal, nor did his son have any sense about the industry.
Netanyahu faced a difficult political battle over Israel's natural gas arrangements, with opponents saying they overly favor the companies involved.
Labor party leader Avi Gabbay said the recording was a "new stain on the corrupt gas deal".“Yair has no idea about the gas business. It was joke made in bad taste. He was making fun of a friend,” Netanyahu said, according to Hadashot.
There was also criticism over Yair Netanyahu's security arrangements, with at least two lawmakers calling for an investigation.
A security guard employed by the state purportedly accompanied Yair Netanyahu to the strip club.
The prime minister called out the news outlet for potentially buying the leaked footage from the driver, saying, "I think that Channel 2 should give notice of whether it bought it [the leaked recordings] and if so, how much it paid. Security arrangements are not things that should be discussed publicly."
On Monday, Netanyahu's family attorney demanded that the Israel Television News Company not air the leaked recordings.
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