Judge urges Yair Netanyahu, leftist think tank to settle libel spat out of court

TA court justice recommends PM’s son, Molad group apologize to each other for bellicose Facebook posts, in order to avoid trial

Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, on June 5, 2018. (Flash90)
Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, on June 5, 2018. (Flash90)

A judge at Tel Aviv’s Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday recommended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair and the left-wing think tank Molad resolve their counter claims of libel outside the courtroom.

The case originated in August last year, when Molad wrote an unflattering Facebook post about the premier’s son, entitled, “Five things you did not know about Yair Netanyahu.” Netanyahu then called the group “radical” and “anti-Zionist,” leading to a libel suit by Molad and a counter-suit by Netanyahu.

Judge Hanna Klugman suggested that the sides apologize to each other, whether in an official capacity or through Facebook posts, and avoid a trial.

Klugman said both sides should “recognize the importance of public discourse on controversial matters,” while “maintaining people’s dignity.”

The judge postponed deliberations to a later date to give both sides time to consider her suggestion.

In its August 2017 Facebook post, Molad castigated the prime minister’s son for living at the taxpayer’s expense, taking lavish vacations with an entourage of state-funded security guards, seeking to influence his father, and encouraging the boycott of Arab-owned businesses.

חמישה דברים שלא ידעתם על יורש העצר, יאיר נתניהו:1. יאיר, צעיר בן 25 שאינו עובד לפרנסתו ומתגורר בבית הוריו על חשבון…

Posted by ‎שישים ואחת‎ on Sunday, July 30, 2017

In response Netanyahu said the group was serving a radical left-wing and anti-Israel agenda. He accused Molad of being a “radical, anti-Zionist organization funded by the Foundation for the Destruction of Israel [a reference to the New Israel Fund, in a Hebrew play on words] and the European Union.”

Molad then filed a claim seeking NIS 140,000 ($38,000) from the younger Netanyahu, saying his public criticism of the organization amounted to libel. In addition to seeking monetary damages, the suit called for Netanyahu to apologize and delete the Facebook post.

Netanyahu responded in December with a counter-suit, seeking NIS 139,621 in damages from Molad, claiming the group’s post was an “injustice” meant to slander and embarrass him.

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