David Shimron, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cousin and former attorney, filed a libel lawsuit Tuesday against a former aerospace executive who claimed in a video that Shimron showed him a contract between the premier and his wife, Sara, giving her sweeping control over core aspects of Israel’s national affairs.
Among the details of the supposed contract, revealed in the video by David Arzi, former vice president of commercial and civil aviation at Israel Aerospace Industries, were provisions for Sara Netanyahu to sit in at top-secret meetings and sign off on appointments of the heads of the Mossad intelligence agency, Shin Bet domestic security service and the military.
Shimron sued Arzi for NIS 425,000 ($129,000) for remarks he made in the clip, which was recently shared on social media.
“The video is fundamentally unfounded, all of it a serious libel against the prime minister, his wife, and the plaintiff,” Shimron claimed in the lawsuit, filed at the Ramle Magistrate’s Court.
“This publication is entirely a lie and clearly defamatory,” he wrote.
In the video, Arzi explained how he came to see the clauses of what he said was a 15-page contract bearing both Netanyahus’ signatures. Arzi said he was allowed to read the document in 1999, during Netanyahu’s first stint as prime minister, by Shimron.
Arzi claimed Shimron had recently been fired from a job and was trying to impress him with how deeply connected he was to the prime minister so that Arzi would lobby Shimron’s former employer to rehire him.
Shimron noted in court papers that the video had been shared hundreds of thousands of times on social media and that Arzi had depicted him as “spineless, wretched, a man who weeps bitterly and begs the defendant to act to restore his livelihood.”
According to Arzi, the contract also included a promise by the prime minister that any trip with an overnight stay that he took would include his wife.
“She can take part in all the most secret meetings, even though she does not have security clearance. That jumped out at me,” Arzi said in the video, part of an interview in Hebrew with his childhood friend journalist Dan Raviv (below).
The alleged contract further made various stipulations that give Sara major control over the couple’s finances.
Last week Arzi told the Haaretz daily that the production of the video was funded by a group of former IDF officers, but that he has committed to not revealing their identities.
Journalist Ben Caspit, who has written a biography of Netanyahu, has published the results of two polygraph tests taken in recent days by Arzi that found him to be telling the truth regarding the alleged contract.
Netanyahu’s office strongly denied the claims, saying they are “a complete and recycled lie that will be handled legally.”
The allegations are not the first time that Sara Netanyahu has been accused of wielding control over her husband, including in affairs of state.
In a leaked transcript from the police investigation into corruption charges against Prime Minister Netanyahu, Miriam Adelson, the wife of the late casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, told interrogators that Sara had vetoed Netanyahu forming a coalition with current Yamina candidates Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, both of whom formerly worked as Netanyahu aides.
In June 2019, Sara Netanyahu was convicted of misusing public funds as part of a plea deal in a case involving allegations she illegally procured and then misreported catering services at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
The agreement saw her escape a conviction of aggravated fraud, but confess to a lesser charge of taking advantage of a mistake. She was ordered to pay NIS 55,000 ($15,210) to the state — NIS 10,000 as a fine, and the rest as restitution.
The prime minister is also currently on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three criminal cases. He denies the charges against him.