Yair Netanyahu to pay damages to former MK Stav Shaffir after losing libel suit

Court rejects PM son’s counterclaim; ex-Labor MK to donate the money to fight incitement, violence against women: ‘Maybe he’ll finally learn his despicable behavior has a price’

This combination of photos shows Yair Netanyahu (L) and former MK Stav Shafir  attending a court hearing in Tel Aviv, November 29, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
This combination of photos shows Yair Netanyahu (L) and former MK Stav Shafir attending a court hearing in Tel Aviv, November 29, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Yair Netanyahu, the son of the prime minister, will pay damages to former Labor MK Stav Shaffir after losing a libel suit over a series of offensive tweets, a Tel Aviv court ruled Thursday.

Shaffir sued Netanyahu over the posts he wrote about her on Twitter. Netanyahu lodged a retaliatory lawsuit over Shaffir’s own social media posts, which the court rejected on Thursday.

Netanyahu will pay Shaffir NIS 70,000 (approximately $19,500) — NIS 40,000 ($11,000) for the defamatory comments, NIS 20,000 ($5,500) in court costs and attorneys’ fees, and NIS 10,000 ($2,750) for expenses on the rejected counterclaim.

Responding to the verdict, Shaffir tweeted that she would be donating the money paid by Netanyahu for his “bullying and lies” to organizations fighting incitement and violence against women.

“Maybe he will finally learn that his despicable behavior has a price,” Shaffir said. “We will make sure that people like Yair don’t succeed in discouraging anyone from fighting for their beliefs.”

Netanyahu is known for his far-right views and combative social media presence, which has landed him in court on a number of occasions. He has increasingly risen in public prominence amid widespread reports that he has been influencing his father’s policies, particularly over the contentious judicial overhaul plan.

Shaffir had sought NIS 263,000 ($73,500) in damages for the 2020 Twitter posts by Netanyahu, which she said were false, libelous, and sexually degrading.

Yair Netanyahu, son of prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a court hearing in the defamation lawsuit filed by former MK Stav Shaffir in Tel Aviv, on November 29, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Netanyahu sued her in return for NIS 300,000 ($84,000) over comments she made in response to him at the time, as well as other past social media posts.

At the opening session of the evidence stage of the mutual lawsuits, Netanyahu was ousted from the courtroom amid repeated outbursts during Shaffir’s testimony and at one point was heard calling her “bitch.”

The lawsuits stemmed from an exchange between the two in April 2020, while the country was under a strict COVID lockdown over Passover. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a photo of his family celebrating together, including his youngest son, Avner Netanyahu, who was not living with him, drawing criticism that they violated the quarantine laws at the time.

Shaffir tweeted that she was disappointed in the prime minister’s behavior.

In response, Yair Netanyahu slammed the former lawmaker, referencing her Knesset run alongside former prime minister Ehud Barak in the Democratic Union party. Barak was infamously photographed visiting disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein’s New York home, but has denied any misdeeds.

“Are you sure you want to speak about morality in light of the failed project you tried to set up with a pedophile enthusiast and frequent visitor to Epstein’s pedophile island?” Yair Netanyahu tweeted at Shaffir. “You’re ugly inside and out. Find yourself a permanent Arab husband who won’t throw you out, go to some village, become a Muslim, and leave us in peace.”

Responding, Shaffir wrote that she had missed her family over the holiday.

“Now, as I read what the prime minister’s son wrote, who was educated in his ways and lives off his money, I miss them even more,” she wrote. “You’re a liar, a harasser, and an evil and racist person. The child’s mouth is the father’s legacy.”

Democratic Union MK Stav Shafir speaks during a discussion in the Knesset in Jerusalem, on August 14, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

“Communist, idiot, pedophile enthusiast, save the derogatory names you called me for Epstein, Barak, and your other friends. I don’t take a shekel from the state,” Netanyahu shot back. “You, on the other hand, owe the taxpayer NIS 8 million.”

The prime minister’s son was likely referencing the NIS 8 million that Shaffir and Barak borrowed from the Knesset for their joint electoral run in 2019, which they didn’t pay back after the Knesset disbanded for an immediate subsequent election.

At a hearing, Netanyahu’s attorney, Yariv Lankri had suggested Shaffir was only suing his client to remain relevant in political life after exiting the Knesset.

“Are you saying someone is inviting verbal sexual assault?” Shaffir said. “This is blaming the victim.”

“Netanyahu, as a public figure even though he was not elected by the public, used sexual violence as a strategy; tried to attribute treachery to me in the security of the state,” she said.

“What nonsense. You had an Arab boyfriend. What do you want?” Netanyahu shot back at her.

Shaffir replied: “That’s a complete lie. There is nothing wrong with an Arab partner, and if I had one I would say so.”

Shaffir is married to Amit Stibbe, the son of purported billionaire Eytan Stibbe.

Illustrative: Members of the Democratic Camp political alliance, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and MK Stav Shaffir on an election tour in Tel Aviv on July 30, 2019. (Flash90)

Netanyahu has repeatedly engaged in verbal altercations.

Earlier this month, he appeared in court to face a libel suit filed by a young woman who says she was subjected to sexual harassment after he tweeted a photo of her that she said insinuated she was the lover of National Unity party leader MK Benny Gantz.

He has compared demonstrators against the controversial judicial overhaul to the Nazis’ Sturmabteilung paramilitary, or SA, and has claimed the United States is funding the protests — an accusation strenuously denied by Washington.

In December of last year, the elder Netanyahu was pushed to publicly reject his son’s calls for state prosecutors to be put on trial for treason after he implied that they deserved a death sentence.

Most Popular
read more: