BENJAMIN Netanyahu’s son bragged that his father helped a friend’s dad to make $US20 billion, in a recording from a drunken and smutty night out.
The 2015 tape captures three young men talking about strippers, prostitutes, and how many thousands of shekels they had spent on lap dances.
The contributions of Yair Netanyahu, now 26, included a suggestion that he call on a waitress as a “take out” and pimp out a former girlfriend to his friends.
Then they got into a discussion of how much money they owed each other from their Friday night in Tel Aviv.
According to Channel 2, who broadcast the tape, Netanyahu was with a son of businessman Koby Maimon, a big winner from Israel’s 2015 deal to extract natural gas from the Mediterranean.
“You’re crying over 400 shekels,” Yair Netanyahu told Ori Maimon. “My father arranged 20 billion dollars for your father and you’re crying over 400 shekels for me, you son of a bitch.”
He also said: “Bro, you have to be nice to me. Bro, my dad got your dad a sweet deal, he fought for it at the Knesset, bro.”
The Netanyahu family’s relationships with wealthy businessmen is already controversial – and the subject of police investigations – and the PM’s critics are now saying that the firm friendship between the Netanyahu and Maimon sons, as well as the nature of the conversation, may raise a red flag about the circumstances of the gas deal.
Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay was in the government at the time of the deal, and said this week that he fought the deal and thought “that there was something bigger that was being kept from us”.
Even among many who just put the young Netanyahu’s comments down to drunken ramblings, the recording is seen as supporting a feeling that the Netanyahus are part of an exclusive clique of the super wealthy.
Aside from the circumstances of the gas deal, the recording has raised new questions about state resources allocated to Yair Netanyahu. He had a state-funded driver and a state bodyguard – who can be heard on the recording – with him on the night out, and continues today to be accompanied by state security, despite resentment about this in the security establishment.
Yair Netanyahu has apologised for his comments, said that he spoke drunken “nonsense” and said that he never took real interest in the gas deal.
But in a statement released by his family to Channel 2, he was less contrite – instead hitting out at the media for publicising the tape.
The Netanyahu family often claims that it is the victim of a hostile media, and said that, with this tape being broadcast, the “witch hunt has reached a new and unprecedented low”.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister found himself in the awkward position of having to stress that he and his wife raised their sons properly.
“My wife and I taught our children to respect any man and any woman. This is why I vehemently oppose the exclusion of women and act in many ways to empower women,” he said.
“These are the values we believe in, and these are the values all Israeli children should be taught.”
The leaked recording comes at a fraught time for the PM, as he remains the subject of two corruption investigations known as Case 1000 and Case 2000.
In one of the investigations, he is accused of accepting expensive gifts from wealthy supporters, including cigars, champagne and jewellery, in exchange for advancing their interests.
The second case alleges that Netanyahu arranged for more favourable coverage from the Israeli daily Yediot Acharonot in exchange for passing legislation that would harm the Sheldon Adelson-backed free daily.