Labor Party leader Amir Peretz on Saturday threatened to file a libel suit against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son for criticizing former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Peretz said he instructed the party’s legal advisers to draw up the suit after Yair Netanyahu alleged that Rabin, who led Labor before his assassination in 1995 by a Jewish extremist, broke the law by giving paid lectures in the US while in public office.
“As someone responsible for Rabin’s legacy and as a successor to his path, I won’t allow the slander and tarnishing of the reputation of an Israeli hero in war and in peace,” Peretz wrote on Twitter.
“I’ll fight for his reputation and won’t allow sick ideas of sick people to rewrite history to harm the name of the party and my name,” he added.
Rabin’s granddaughter Noa Rothman, who is running in the upcoming elections with the newly-formed Democratic Camp alliance, said Peretz’s threat of a libel suit was an empty gesture.
“You can’t file a suit for libel made against the dead, and therefore the appeal by Peretz and the Labor Party is empty of content,” she was quoted saying by the Maariv daily at a cultural event in Givat Shmuel.
“What is possible is to go to the ballot box and vote according to your conscience,” she added.
Yair Netanyahu’s comments on Rabin came in response to a tweet by Democratic Camp MK Stav Shaffir, who as part of an ongoing discussion wrote in a tweet to Israeli journalist Kalman Liebskind that Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu should not be compared.
“Rabin boldly led the country toward a peace agreement. Bibi is suspected of bribery, fraud and breach of trust,” Shaffir wrote, using Benjamin Netanyahu’s nickname.
“With Rabin, it ended with three shots. Netanyahu, meanwhile, is running from three indictments. Believe me, it’s better not to compare them,” Shaffir wrote.
Rabin as prime minister spearheaded peace efforts with the Palestinians and was assassinated at a peace rally in Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995, by Yigal Amir.
רבין עבר על החוק עשה הרצאות באמריקה בעודו עובד ציבור הרוויח הון תועפות. שעלו עליו הפיל את התיק על אשתו, וסגר אתזה בשיחת סלון נעימה עם אהרון ברק. רבין רצח ניצולי שואה באלטלנה. רבין הביא לפה את ערפאת ועוד עשרות אלפי מחבלים מטוניס והביא למותם של 2000 ישראלים
— Yair Netanyahu ???????? (@YairNetanyahu) September 6, 2019
In his response to Shaffir, Yair Netanyahu wrote: “Rabin broke the law by delivering lectures in America while he was a public servant, earning a fortune.”
He was apparently referring to the so-called Dollar Account affair, a 1977 financial scandal involving Rabin and his wife that led to his resignation from his post as prime minister. The Rabins had bank accounts in the United States which they used while he served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington, and which were not closed when they returned to Israel. He had reportedly received $90,000 for delivering lectures in the five years he held the post.
“He murdered Holocaust survivors on the Altalena,” Yair Netanyahu wrote, referring to the Altalena affair, an incident during Israel’s War of Independence when the nascent Israel Defense Forces, including troops under Rabin’s command, clashed with the Irgun paramilitary group in Tel Aviv. Sixteen Irgun members and three IDF soldiers were killed.
“Rabin brought Arafat here and tens of thousands of terrorists from Tunis and brought death to 2,000 Israelis,” he continued. Yasser Arafat had been based in Tunis before the peace talks with Rabin.
“Tell me, how are your pedophile friends?” he said in closing, likely referring to Shaffir’s fellow Democratic Camp member Ehud Barak, who had ties to disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Shaffir was a member of Labor before leaving to join the Democratic Camp.
“We firmly condemn Yair Netanyahu’s harsh statements against the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. What can be expected from him, given that his father stands on the balcony at Zion Square at the head of an incitement campaign,” Labor said in a joint statement with the Gesher party, which it is running with in the September 17 elections.
Yair Netanyahu is a vocal right-wing activist on social media, and has in the past defended his father and repeatedly ignited controversies with inflammatory statements online.