Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah, hounded for years by an overt media campaign against them, are fighting back with a $3.5 million suit against Channel 10 over the Bibi-tours allegations, which he calls the worst libel in 60 years.
It is the second lawsuit the Netanyahus have filed since the first reports that he allegedly pocketed extra money as a result of “double-billing” for travel expenses. Last month, the Prime Minister filed two libel suits, each for $1 million, against Channel 10 and the Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv.
The new suit was filed against the television channel and two of its reporters, whose investigation was termed by Netanyahu’s lawyer David Shimron an”unrelenting malicious mudslinging from start to finish.” He asserted there has been “such a grievous case of libel” since the early years of the modern State of Israel.
An explanation by a travel agency on the “double-billing,” if true, indicates the reporters were guilty of sloppy journalism without checking their sources.
The journalists’ probe concluded that the Netanyahus received money from two organizations for the same trip, using a double-billing procedure.
The lawsuit explains those two groups, the Heritage organization and the Ashdod Medical Center, “are the same entity legally functioning under two different names.” Prime Minister Netanyahu, speaking in Germany following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel , told reporters, [It is] saddening that during an important official Israeli visit I need to respond to the slander of a handful of bodies in Israel which want to harm me for political reasons."
Four days go, Ayala Travel & Tourism wrote to Netanyahus’ attorney, “I hereby confirm that the Jewish Heritage Foundation International is an American organization that raises contributions for the building of a hospital in Ashdod, and that the current prime minister Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu travelled to New York for our organization in September 2006 to increase the awareness of the need to establish a hospital in Ashdod.
“Our organization also bears the name American Friends of AMC per the authorization of the New York Department of State. We are the only ones who paid for this trip of Mr. Netanyahu and no other organization paid for it.
“The invoice was issued to the wrong name and thus we asked for an invoice to be issued to the correct name… “No payment was ever received for the cancelled invoice.”