Yair Netanyahu wins libel suit against government critic over Facebook post
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Yair Netanyahu wins libel suit against government critic over Facebook post

Court orders Labor activist Abie Binyamin to pay prime minister’s son NIS 20,000 for alleging he hid millions of dollars in offshore accounts

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's eldest son Yair Netanyahu is seen at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on June 5, 2018. (Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's eldest son Yair Netanyahu is seen at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on June 5, 2018. (Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair, on Sunday won a libel lawsuit against Labor Party activist Abie Binyamin, who had accused him of using a fake Mossad-issued passport to hide millions overseas.

Netanyahu sued Binyamin for NIS 140,000 ($37,000) in damages over a 2017 Facebook post that claimed the premier had asked the secret service to issue his son a passport under a different name, which he then used to hide money offshore.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ruled for Netanyahu but lowered the award to  NIS 20,000 ($5,600) in damages and a further NIS 7,000 ($2,000) in fees.

Last year Netanyahu refused to accept an apology from Binyamin, saying the attempt to make amends was not sincere enough to satisfy his demands for justice.

In the original post Binyamin, who has been active in anti-corruption demonstrations against the prime minister outside the home of the attorney general in Petah Tikva, wrote that the premier had called the head of the Mossad, requesting a passport in a fake name for his son Yair so he could travel more securely.

Screen capture from video of an interview with social activist Abie Binyamin. (YouTube)

Binyamin claimed that the real purpose of the alleged false identity was to hide money overseas, and that the name used on the fake passport later appeared in the so-called Panama Papers, an anonymously leaked trove of millions of documents containing details about wealthy individuals and public officials, including their alleged offshore holdings.

During the trial, Netanyahu was censured by the judge for using salty language during cross examination by Binyamin’s lawyer.

In June 2017, the same court ordered journalist Igal Sarna to pay Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu NIS 100,000 ($28,300) in another libel suit.

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

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