Knesset member Oren Hazan told a court last week that the journalist he is suing for libel over a 2015 television exposé — which accused him of soliciting prostitutes and using crystal meth — is the reason he is currently single.
According to an affidavit submitted to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court last week, the scandal-ridden Likud lawmaker said the TV report by Channel 2 correspondent Amit Segal damaged his reputation, prevented him from taking part in important Knesset activities, and ultimately caused his girlfriend to break up with him.
“Our relationship deteriorated, and we ended up breaking up over this slander against me,” he said in the affidavit. “It’s not because she didn’t believe me, God forbid, but because as a private citizen, she wasn’t able to stand up to the crude media uproar that has swirled around me since the defendant published his investigation.”
Hazan is seeking damages in the amount of NIS 1 million ($260,000) from Segal for what he calls a “tsunami of false accusations” against him.
Last June, an investigative report by Segal and Channel 2 claimed Hazan hired prostitutes for his friends and used hard drugs while managing a casino in Bulgaria, before he was elected to Knesset.
Titled “Prostitutes, drugs and the deputy speaker of the Knesset,” the report quoted two Israeli tourists and a casino employee who confirmed that Hazan would provide prostitutes for his guests in the Burgas casino, in which he held a stake. Both prostitution and hard-drug use are illegal in Bulgaria.
Hazan has denied the allegations and has repeatedly accused the media of unfair treatment.
Following the airing of the report, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein blocked Hazan from presiding over any Knesset meetings “until further notice.”
In December, the Knesset Ethics Committee also suspended Hazan from participating in parliamentary debates for a month, due to a series of complaints against him.
In February, Hazan was again suspended from the committee hearings, this time by his own Likud party after he skipped a plenum vote resulting in a loss for the party.
And a 2015 State Comptroller report on party spending during primary campaigns said Hazan failed to report his expenditure and accused him of lying in an affidavit declaring his expenses, a crime that can carry up to a three-year custodial sentence.
He was also roundly criticized by fellow lawmakers for appearing to mock of a disabled MK Karin Elharar from the Knesset floor during a December plenum vote.
The freshman lawmaker’s father Yehiel Hazan lost his Knesset seat after he was caught casting a double-vote in the plenum, and then attempting to remove a voting computer from a Knesset storage room to hide evidence of the act.