Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday called for a law against leaking recordings as his son faces scrutiny for comments he made about strippers and a business deal worth billions.
The leader’s son, Yair Netanyahu, is heard in an audio recording suggesting his friend, Ori Maimon, should give him money to tip a dancer because Benjamin Netanyahu pushed through a deal benefiting his father, gas tycoon Kobi Maimon.
“My dad set up 20 billion dollars for your dad, and you’re fighting with me about 400 shekels?” Yair Netanyahu said.
News organization Hadashot paid $15,000 for the audio recording, though a number of news organizations refused to pay for it.
During a Cabinet meeting Thursday, Prime Minister Netanyahu told Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that there should be an investigation into the legality of leaking such recordings.
“It is wrong for there to be no system protecting us,” Benjamin Netanyahu said. “It is time for your justice system to start acting and defending us. This is serious. It happened today with Yair Netanyahu and tomorrow it will happen to [Culture Minister Miri] Regev, to [Finance Minister Moshe] Kahlon and to others.”
Speaking at a news conference with Shaked, the prime minister said the media “crossed a line” by paying for and airing the secret conversation. Shaked said the government could pass a law to prohibit such recordings from being made.
Israeli law dictates that only one party must give consent in order to make recordings legal.
“We can’t be hostages. We are being threatened, and they are even trying to profit from selling it to the media. We can’t become punching bags to be attacked at any given moment,” Regev said.
Yair Netanyahu, 26, issued an apology, saying his remarks were made while he was drinking and did not represent his values.
The remarks by Yair Netanyahu now adds fuel to a fire at a time when the prime minister is the subject of two corruption investigations.
On Thursday, state attorney Shai Nitzan said he hopes authorities will give their recommendations into the corruption investigations within the coming weeks.
“Any absurd claims that the investigation is being delayed deliberately are false,” he said. “If you believe investigating a prime minister is simple, that is a false assumption.”
The probe “is not dictated by any political interests, and we will do what needs to be done.”
By Danielle Haynes