TV host suspended after poking fun at PM’s request for legal funds

TV host suspended after poking fun at PM’s request for legal funds

Public broadcaster says clip of Dov Gil-Har joking about Netanyahu having trouble taking out his wallet was unprofessional

Dov Gil-Har (Screen capture: YouTube)
Dov Gil-Har (Screen capture: YouTube)

A television presenter for the Kan public broadcaster was suspended Tuesday following a segment poking fun at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request for wealthy benefactors to foot his defense bills in a series of corruption cases.

Dov Gil-Har, who hosts an evening news program on Kan’s television network, spoke Monday with Kan analyst Moti Gilat after the State Comptroller Permits Committee rejected for a third time Netanyahu’s request for outside legal funding, with the two joking that the prime minister’s family would need to open its own wallet.

“You want to demonstrate,” Gil-Har asked Gilat, who preceded to pull money from his back pants pocket.

“[You need] to lift your butt a little, reach far,” Gilat joked in response.

The two also quipped that Netanyahu could not pay with a credit card, referring to his wife’s reported testimony that they do not have one, while Gil-Har said he and Gilat’s wallets were “worn-out, likely from overuse.”

The Netanyahus have been accused of using state funds to cover their high flying lifestyle. Last week, Sara Netanyahu pleaded guilty after being charged with lying to use public money to pay for catered meals at the Prime Minister’s Residence, which also has a state-funded chef.

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leaves the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem on June 16, 2019, following her conviction of fraudulently using state funds for meals. Netanyahu was found guilty of exploiting the mistake of another person and ordered to pay a fine and compensation. (GALI TIBBON / AFP)

Benjamin Netanyahu is also facing possible charges for taking hundreds-of-thousands of shekels worth on champagne and cigars from a billionaire. The couple have also sought to have the state fund repairs at their private residence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embraces his wife Sara as he appears before supporters of his Likud party in Tel Aviv early on April 10, 2019, as election results are announced. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

Earlier this year Forbes ranked Netanyahu as one of the richest politicians, with NIS 50 million ($13.8 million) in assets, much of which is believed to have come from consulting work and lectures he gave during his sabbatical from politics after losing the 1999 elections to Labor’s Ehud Barak.

Following angry responses on social media to the clip, including from the premier’s son Yair Netanyahu, Kan removed the segment from its website and Twitter account, before suspending Gil-Har.

According to Haaretz, Gil-Har was suspended until Thursday but will continue to appear as usual on Kan’s main radio station.

Quoting unnamed sources at Kan, the Ynet news site reported that Gil-Har was not suspended over the content of the segment itself, but because he did not receive the editor’s permission for it ahead of time.

“This was an unnecessary segment without any journalistic value that did not meet the professional standards of the news division,” Kan said.

On Monday, the Permits Committee rejected Netanyahu’s request to use contributions from Spencer Partrich, an American businessman and acquaintance of the prime minister to help foot his defense bills.

The rejection came after Netanyahu’s defense team said it would not comply with the committee request to hand over a declaration of assets, as well as the full details of the relationship between Netanyahu and Partrich.

The panel refused to grant the prime minister’s attorney a meeting to explain why information about Netanyahu’s assets should remain private.

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