Netanyahus Sue Reporter for Defamation

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli journalist Yigal Sarna arrives Tuesday at the Magistrate Court in Tel Aviv, where he is accused by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife of defamation. (Reuters/Debbie Hill/Pool)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suing an Israeli reporter for defamation in a story he published about a domestic squabble that they allege was pure fabrication.

The Netanyahus testified in Tel Aviv’s Magistrate Court on Tuesday against Yediot Aharonot reporter Igal Sarna, seeking the maximum penalty of 280,000 shekels in damages for besmirching their good name.

Sarna had claimed in March 2015 that Mrs. Netanyahu threw her husband out of a car during a family fight, and their security personnel were called upon to enable the prime minister to re-enter the vehicle.

In court, Netanyahu dismissed Sarna’s story as a “lie” and an “insane attempt to besmirch my family’s name.” The whole scenario, including the allegation that security personnel were endangered in the incident, was “absurd,” he said.

Mrs. Netanyahu, in her own separate testimony, said she could not recall any such incident as described by Sarna.

Furthermore, she contended that “Sarna is not only a liar but inhuman in how he has treated me and my family.”

She added that the claims in question were part of a decades-long media campaign against them. “There has been a crusade for 20 years against me. If I sued every time, [I] would be in court every day, every hour. I am means to fell Bibi.”

Under questioning by the Netanyahus’ lawyer, Sarna did not back down. He stated that he believed “more than ever” that the incident was true.

When asked why he had not been able to produce witnesses to corroborate his story, he explained that his sources “do not want to come. I cannot force them to come.”

Another hearing was set for May 18.