Yair Netanyahu sues over ‘fake passport’ Facebook post

Prime minister’s son files for damages from year-old social media claims that he used false identity to hide money offshore

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)
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)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son filed a legal suit on Wednesday over a Facebook post that claimed the prime minister asked the Mossad to issue him a passport in a different name, which he then used to hide money offshore.

Yair Netanyahu is suing Abie Binyamin for NIS 140,000 ($40,000) in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court for the claims Binyamin made in a post on August 17, 2016, Channel 2 news reported.

In the post Binyamin, who has been active in the protests against the prime minister outside the home of the attorney general in Petah Tikva, allegedly wrote that the premier had called the head of the Mossad, requesting a passport in a fake name for his son, Yair.

Netanyahu allegedly claimed the passport was for security purposes, to protect his son as he traveled the world.

However, Binyamin also claimed that the real purpose of the false identity was to hide money overseas, and that the name used on the fake passport later appeared in the Panama papers.

“Young Yair Netanyahu, who has barely earned anything in his life, is already very rich,” Binyamin allegedly wrote.

The implications of the post were that the Netanyahu family were perhaps involved in money laundering or tax evasion.

The post echoed rumors that had been circulating on social media since at least July 2016, a month before Binyamin’s post, so it is unclear why Yair Netanyahu is suing him specifically.

In June the prime minister and his wife successfully sued for defamation over another Facebook post. The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ordered journalist Igal Sarna to pay them NIS 100,000 ($28,300.)

Sarna alleged in a Facebook post that Sara had stopped the prime minister’s convoy on a major highway and kicked her husband out on the side of the road.

The prime minister said that Sarna’s post was just one example of the many falsehoods put out about him and his family.

“In one of the few cases in which we found the time to defend our good name and file a lawsuit against yet another lie against us, the court exposed the method and ruled in favor of the truth,” Netanyahu wrote. “Truth won today, and it will continue to do so forever!”

Yair Netanyahu has been in the headlines several times in the past few weeks, after claiming that American left-wing groups are more dangerous than neo-Nazis, following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a far-right march, and US President Donald Trump’s controversial statements that “both sides were to blame” for the deadly incident.

The prime minister’s son also lashed out at a group called Sixty One who criticized his lifestyle in a Facebook post in July. He accused the group of serving a radical left-wing agenda and drawing a threat of a libel lawsuit.

A few days earlier Netanyahu made the news over an incident in which he reportedly refused to clean up after his dog. A woman said Netanyahu junior flipped her the bird after she asked him to clean up his family dog’s excrement in a Jerusalem park.

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