Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly told two reporters working for a religious right-wing news website to check into the “bedrooms” of New Right party leaders Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, and accused the reporters of being “leftists.”
Atara German, Srugim’s Knesset reporter, and Or Izraeli, the website’s news editor, arrived at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on Sunday to interview the prime minister, amid a blitz of interviews he is giving to right-wing media outlets in a last-minute push to raise turnout.
According to the Haaretz daily, as they waited to enter the residence for the interview, Sara Netanyahu approached them and asked, referring to Bennett and Shaked, “Why don’t you write about their bedrooms?”
According to the report, Sara Netanyahu told the reporters that when Shaked first arrived to work at Netanyahu’s office in 2006, Sara wanted “to find out who this woman was who was going to work with the prime minister.”
She scheduled a meeting with Shaked, she reportedly said, and afterward was left distinctly unimpressed by the future justice minister’s purported good looks. “That’s a beautiful woman? Why did you say she was beautiful?” Netanyahu reportedly told the two reporters, apparently unprompted.
German and Izraeli then asked Netanyahu why she did not give interviews, as Bennett’s wife, Gilat, has done, which led Netanyahu to allegedly shout at them, “You’re leftists. You work for Bennett and Shaked.”
Bennett and Shaked worked for Benjamin Netanyahu while he served as opposition leader from 2006 to 2008, but left after reported clashes with Sara.
In an online election broadcast on the Srugim website, Izraeli and German responded to the reports that emerged from the encounter. They did not deny the exchange, but said they had not leaked the report of it, and that “there was no screaming.”
“We arrived yesterday to interview the prime minister for the Srugim website, a professional, journalistic interview,” Izraeli said on Monday afternoon. “We arrived. Naturally, we were then hosted at the Prime Minister’s Residence. There were certain conversations that some parties are trying to depict in one way or another. We are professional journalists, we don’t leak and we don’t talk about it.”
He asked German if she had anything to add. She said: “I can say there was no screaming there.”
According to the Haaretz report, after the encounter, an aide in the PM’s office tried to calm Sara Netanyahu, but she remained angry at the reporters. Then Topaz Lok, a new media adviser to the premier, arrived and called Sara Netanyahu to join her husband in an interview underway in the office. Sara Netanyahu agreed and left the room.
The report said that a Likud public relations staffer, Nevo Katz, then asked the reporters not to publicize the conversation.
Reports of such conversations have long dogged Sara Netanyahu. Several former aides to the prime minister have claimed that she was regularly abusive toward staff and expressed conspiratorial views about the loyalties of the prime minister’s aides. She also vetoed the presence of women around the prime minister. Netanyahu’s office has few women employees in positions of influence around the premier.
The Netanyahus have long insisted that such reports are part of a smear campaign orchestrated and sustained by journalists seeking to hurt Benjamin Netanyahu politically.