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Court rejects Yair Netanyahu claim he doesn’t have money to pay his libel fines

Judge orders former PM’s son to immediately pay almost $90,000 to former news site editor, saying he has more than NIS 1 million in his bank account

Yair Netanyahu, son of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives for a court hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in Tel Aviv on March 10, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Yair Netanyahu, son of then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives for a court hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in Tel Aviv on March 10, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Tel Aviv District Court rejected an appeal on Sunday by Yair Netanyahu, the son of the former prime minister, that had called for a delay in the implementation of a lower court ruling that ordered him to pay hundreds of thousands of shekels in a libel case.

The court ruling on Sunday ordered him to pay the NIS 250,000 fine immediately, on top of approximately NIS 30,000 in legal fees, and added an additional NIS 7,500 to the total figure (in total, approximately $89,300).

Netanyahu has been ordered to immediately turn over the funds to former Walla news site editor Avi Alkalay, who filed the libel suit in 2019.

Alkalay sued Netanyahu over posts he shared on social media claiming the editor was “a planted mole” working with the state prosecution against his father, and accused him of being in cahoots with the state prosecutor. The former Walla editor is one of the central witnesses in the ongoing corruption trial of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Earlier this month, Yair Netanyahu’s attorneys submitted a request to delay payment in the case, claiming that Netanyahu does not have the funds to pay, but his appeal was dismissed on Sunday.

“The applicant did not bring even a shred of evidence to his claim that he may ‘collapse financially’ if the verdict is not delayed and that he does not have the financial means to repay the compensation imposed on him,” the court ruling read.

The ruling further noted that Netanyahu did not provide the court with pay slips or balance sheets showing his financial situation, and that, according to documents provided by Alkalay, “it appears that the applicant has about a million shekels in liquid assets.”

Yair Netanyahu arrives for a hearing at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court in Tel Aviv on April 26, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Last March, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ruled against Netanyahu in the case after he failed to file a statement of defense. Earlier this year, Netanyahu appealed the decision, saying he never received an official letter informing him of the proceedings. But the court rejected his appeal in July, saying the registered letter was sent to the correct location under the circumstances — the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, where Yair Netanyahu was living at the time with his parents.

In last month’s decision, the court noted that Netanyahu, 30, was listed by the Interior Ministry as living at the official residence and, given that he is “an adult living with his parents in the Prime Minister’s Residence,” it was the correct place to send the letter.

Netanyahu is no stranger to libel lawsuits and legal threats. He has a history of posting incendiary messages on social media and tweets fast and often against those he believes have wronged him and his family. He has been involved in multiple lawsuits over his social media postings and has been ordered more than once by Israeli courts to apologize for statements.

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