‘Bro, my dad arranged a $20bn show for you’: Netanyahu son red-faced over alcohol-fueled boast
The son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was recorded talking to a friend, the son of a gas tycoon, about a controversial deal involving their powerful fathers.
As pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu grows over allegations of corruption, the family’s public image was dealt a blow on Monday after a report aired by Israeli television. The report included a recording of a 2015 conversation that three young men, with powerful parents or connections, had had after a night at a strip club.
They were Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Nir Maimon, the son of natural gas tycoon Kobi Maimon, and Roman Abramov, an employee of Australian gambling tycoon James Packer, who has been accused in Israeli media of getting the well-paid job without having the relevant experience.
The three young men sounded inebriated at the time of the recording and were heard discussing how much they spent at the strip club over the evening. Netanyahu was also apparently suggesting arranging a meeting with a prostitute for his friends. However, the ‘service’ would require 400 shekels ($116), which, Abramov suggested, Maimon should lend to the PM’s son.
“Bro, you have to spot me. My dad made an awesome deal for your dad, bro. He fought, fought in the Knesset for this, bro,” Yair Netanyahu said, as quoted by the Times of Israel. “Bro, my dad now arranged a $20 billion show for you and you can’t spot me 400 shekel?”
The conversation apparently referred to the controversial deal over the Tamar and Leviathan offshore gas fields, the former being partially controlled by Kobi Maimon. Under the deal, the operation had been shielded from anti-monopoly regulations and from possible changes in taxation or ownership structure, with a stated goal of kick-starting stalling production. Critics blamed the arrangement for a hike in gas prices in the market, saying it had created a de facto gas duopoly in Israel.
The recorded conversation was in apparent jest, according to the Israeli media judgment, with the young men joking that they were acting like idiots and even telling Yair Netanyahu’s state-funded security guard that, if he left his job, he may be killed rather than be allowed to tell anybody about their escapades. Responding to the report on Monday, the Netanyahu family dismissed it as an attempt to smear the prime minister.
“Tonight I watched a disgraceful, yellow-press report that presented illegal recordings of a conversation that took place two and a half years ago. In a night conversation, under the influence of alcohol, I spoke nonsense about women and other things that were better left unsaid,” Yair Netanyahu said in a statement.
“These remarks do not reflect who I am, the values on which I was raised and my beliefs. I regret the remarks and apologize if anyone was hurt by them. In addition, the things I said to Maimon were a dumb joke and joking around with him, as anyone could tell. I never took an interest in the natural-gas framework agreement and never had any idea about its details.”
The Israel Television News Company insists that the recording was made and aired legally.
Benjamin Netanyahu, is currently under pressure over two separate corruption cases against him, being investigated by the Israeli police. Mass protests against him have been staged each weekend for six consecutive weeks.