Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) chairman Naftali Bennett underwent a polygraph test in 2009, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu suspected that he had leaked sensitive information to Channel 10 television.
According to the Sunday evening report on Channel 2 News, Bennett was found to be telling the truth and passed the test. The Jewish Home chairman would not comment on this when asked by Channel 2.
The classified information in question is tied to the so-called “Bibi Tours Affair”. Channel 10 reported at the time that Netanyahu accepted funding from private sources for trips for him and his family while in public office.
A few months ago, then-State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss submitted two findings to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein regarding the allegations.
The Channel 2 report on Sunday evening came following a report in the Haaretz daily, which said that Netanyahu and his wife, Sarah, had vetoed the Jewish Home’s joining of the coalition because of Bennett’s alleged leaks about Netanyahu.
The Netanyahus reportedly lost trust in Bennett because of the supposed leaks. Netanyahu's strained relationship with Bennett is an open secret, although Bennett denies it. According to persistent accounts, Bennett left his job as Netanyahu's chief of staff because he did not get along with Sarah, who is said by the media to be a dominant force in Netanyahu's decision making apparatus.
Officials in the Likud rejected on Sunday the claims that the tension between the Netanyahu family and Bennett would lead to the Jewish Home’s being left out of the coalition, saying, “Despite the personal smear campaign, the Prime Minister will continue to operate using relevant considerations and aims to establish as broad a government as possible. Such a coalition will also include the Jewish Home.”
During the elections, the Likud carried on a smear campaign of falsified character assassination against Bayit Yehudi candidates that was an integral part of their TV and radio ads. Part of this campaign included ads that portrayed some of the Jewish Home’s candidates as “extremists” and “sexist”.
If this campaign was not enough, after the results of the elections were publicized, Netanyahu chose to first speak with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, whose centrist party became the second largest party in the Knesset, meeting him a few hours later. Netanyahu saved his phone call to Bennett for last.
The delay is widely seen as significant, since the order in which negotiations take place with parties determines which party will join the coalition first, and receive the "juiciest" portfolios, and which is "left to dry out."
Netanyahu is under fire by members of his party over his treatment of Bennett, which Likud members say has been inappropriate, demeaning and solely based on personal reasons.