The son sets on the prime minister
Hebrew media review

The son sets on the prime minister

Hebrew media still can't stop talking about the explosive Yair Netanyahu tapes, noting that few Likud allies were willing to back the PM over his son's strip-club proclivities

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, December 17, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, December 17, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Hebrew-language media still can’t get over the bombshell embarrassing recordings of Yair Netanyahu, and wonders whether the problem might have to do with the young man’s father.

It’s been almost a week since the publication of a recording in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair was heard making disparaging comments about women during a night of excess in a string of Tel Aviv strip clubs, but the revelation, which disgusted many Israelis, is showing remarkable staying power. It looms large in the pages of the country’s weekend papers.

Unsurprisingly, the dailies not typically aligned with Netanyahu use the incident to bash the prime minister, and draw, perhaps unfairly, a line that ties Yair’s questionable antics and the many investigations surrounding the Israeli leader, his government and his family. They note that the recordings of the younger Netanyahu also feature him trying to parlay, apparently in jest, his father’s signature natural gas deal for spending cash for strippers from the son of a gas tycoon.

Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the annual bible study held at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on October 13, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

“The party tapes of Yair Netanyahu revealed another rotten and corrupt side of the prime minister’s family,” writes Haaretz’s Yossi Verter. “[The recordings] showed something that touched every normative person in the country, right- or left-wing — the scent of corruption, a testimony to the relationship between money and political power, the exploitation of women, rude and belligerent behavior, and reckless use of public funds.” Verter notes that the Netanyahu family was left to deal with the aftermath of the publication on their own, as even the prime minister’s top allies in the Likud did not rush to the Israeli leader’s defense as they usually do. “The collective cold shoulder which was turned to the prime minister in his distress was received with surprise and sadness at [Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem’s] Balfour [Street],” Verter writes, adding that the situation finally led to an apology, rather than the usual attack on the left and its alleged obsession with bringing down the Israeli leader.

In Yedioth Ahronoth, contributor Sima Kadmon questions Netanyahu’s motives regarding other legislation, in light of his handling of the recordings affair. “At a time when the prime minister struggled for every vote about the [so-called] mini-market bill whose essence was the sanctity of the Sabbath, he had to take a break and deal with [a crisis] that is the very opposite of sanctity,” Kadmon writes. The legislation, which threatened to break apart the coalition, would essentially force convenience stores to be shuttered on Saturdays, though even Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who vowed to resign if the legislation wasn’t brought to the Knesset for a vote, admitted this week that he does not have the power to, nor does he intend to, enforce the law.

The Yedioth analyst goes on to play slightly dirty, and delves into the dynamics of the Netanyahu family. Kadmon hints that the prime minister’s estranged daughter Noa’s absence from photos at the Israeli leader’s office is an indicator of the disregard Netanyahu allegedly has for the family values that his party holds dear. Kadmon also criticizes Netanyahu and his wife’s “hedonism” and rich-and-famous lifestyle, suggesting that Yair’s behavior is a product of his parent’s upbringing. “Why are we surprised that Netanyahu’s son exploits the pockets and wine glasses of [Australian gambling tycoon] James Packer, that he lives on the accounts of others?”

Meanwhile, Israel Hayom, which supports Netanyahu, reports favorably on the prime minister’s decision to “examine legislation against recordings,” suggesting that should be the main take-away from the affair, rather than the content of the recordings themselves. During a cabinet discussion on Thursday, Netanyahu told Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that law enforcement bodies should examine the legality of the leaking the younger Netanyahu’s conversation, Hebrew media reported. Current law requires that at least one party to a conversation be aware of, and give permission to, a recording. Any recording without knowledge of any of the parties is considered illegal wiretapping under Israeli law and is punishable by a maximum of five years in jail.

In totally unrelated news, Israel Hayom presents an exclusive view of the newly approved plans for the renovation of the Knesset, which should cost the state some NIS 140 million ($41 million) and include the construction of a small motel. According to the daily, the renovation comes in response to the advancement of the so-called “Norwegian Law,” which would allow one minister in every coalition party to give up their Knesset seat in favor of the next person in line on their party’s slate, effectively increasing the number of active parliamentarians from 120 to around 140. Among other things the renovation plan would include the construction of another floor at the Knesset, the move of some lawmakers’ offices outside the main building, and the construction of a new office building for Knesset administrative workers.

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