Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been holding talks with a publishing house about releasing a new book, after failing to return the advance for a previous work that was shelved, a newspaper report said Monday.
According to the Haaretz daily, the book Netanyahu is discussing with Yedioth Books would include autobiographical details, and, along with an Israeli release, would also likely be published in English for an overseas audience.
Yedioth Books is a division of the Yedioth Ahronoth Group, whose publisher, Arnon Mozes, has notoriously acrimonious ties with Netanyahu. Despite their frosty relationship, the two have been indicted for allegedly trying to reach a quid pro quo in which Netanyahu would have received positive media coverage from the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, in exchange for legislation weakening rival newspaper Israel Hayom.
Both deny wrongdoing in the case, one of three corruption probes that Netanyahu is currently standing trial for.
The former prime minister has published books through Yedioth in the past, and was set to release another he wrote when serving as finance minister from 2003-2005 and during an earlier stint as opposition leader, before he reclaimed the premiership in 2009.
Dov Eichenwald, the CEO of Yedioth Books, told investigators in 2017 that the planned publication of the book was frozen upon Netanyahu’s return to the Prime Minister’s Office, attributing the move to Netanyahu not wanting to highlight the policies he pushed when serving as finance minister.
“He adopted a very tough and cruel economic policy…. When he was elected prime minister, to present this in a book… is very uncomfortable,” Eichenwald said at the time, according to Haaretz.
Though the book was shelved, Netanyahu never returned the advance, which Eichenwald estimated was worth NIS 140,000 ($45,000).
“I told him, ‘You know what, do a biography for us after you are done as prime minister,” Eichenwald was quoted as saying. “I met with him and told him, ‘Listen, every Sunday, for about half an hour, write down your impressions.'”
However, Eichenwald said Netanyahu never formally committed to releasing a biography with Yedioth, leading him to approach David Shimron, the ex-premier’s lawyer and cousin, about getting the advance back. According to Eichenwald, Shimron told him he would try to find another publisher to purchase the rights to the book, though no buyer was found and the advance was not returned.
Neither Eichenwald nor Netanyahu responded to the newspaper’s request for comment.
The report also said that in addition to his talks with Yedioth, Netanyahu was considering publishing the new book independently. It noted that he could also decide to release the previously shelved book through Yedioth or return the advance.
In September, the Walla news site reported that Netanyahu had been working on a new book about his time in office and worldview.
Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, authored several books in the 1980s and 1990s.
He has remained active in politics since losing power when the new government took office in June, and now, as opposition leader, is vowing to unseat the Naftali Bennett-led coalition that ousted him.
He also continues to stand trial on the corruption charges, which he denies.