Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces new criticism over a tape of his son bragging about his father's role in pushing through a controversial gas deal. The comments were made outside a Tel Aviv strip club.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 26-year-old son Yair issued an apology on Tuesday for embarrassing comments made outside a Tel Aviv strip club that were broadcast on Israeli media.
"These statements do not represent who I am nor the values on which I was raised," said the younger Netanyahu. "Regarding what I said about the gas deal, it was a joke."
The recording was made in 2015 by a bodyguard for Netanyahu's son, who was on an alcohol-fueled strip club tour with a companion, Kobi Maimon, whose father owns gas fields off the coast of Israel.
'Bro, my dad made an awesome deal for your dad'
Yair Netanyahu can be heard trying to convince Maimon to lend him money while talking about strippers and prostitutes, saying: "Bro, you got to spot me. My dad made an awesome deal for your dad, Bro, he fought in the Knesset for this Bro."
He then continued, "Bro, my dad arranged a $20 billion (€17 billion) deal for your dad and you can't spot me 400 shekels ($116 / €97)?" Not only has the case embarrassed the prime minister, it has also raised questions about taxpayer-funded security for his family.
The natural gas framework deal he was referring to was highly controversial among opposition politicians and the broader public, leading to accusations that Netanyahu was favoring the companies involved. He denied having any relationship with Maimon, saying only that he had "met him once 10 years ago." He also said he was unaware that his son was friends with the oil mogul's son.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is currently under investigation for supposedly receiving expensive gifts from supporters as well as having dealings with a newspaper publisher in an effort to win favorable coverage. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing during extensive police questioning.
A family that leaves controversy in its wake
Initially, the prime minister's office attempted to keep the tape from being aired. When it was broadcast, the family released a statement saying that it was part of a "witch hunt against the family that has reached an unprecedented low. Apparently everything is fair game to attack the Netanyahu government and family, including using secret and illegal recordings of young men drinking alcohol."
This was not the first time Yair Netanyahu has caused a stir, in September, for instance, he took to Facebook to write of his belief that there was a conspiracy against his family. That post included anti-Semitic images of American billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Prime Minister Netanyahu's wife Sara is also under investigation for the misuse of public funds.
js/rt (AP, AFP, dpa)