In Summary
  • The Netanyahus in a statement said the broadcast of the recording was part of a “witch-hunt against the family that has reached an unprecedented low”.
  • According to the family, the recording was made by a driver from the prime minister’s office.
  • The recording was a new blow to Netanyahu, who is already facing two separate graft investigations.

JERUSALEM

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to defend himself today after his son was recorded seemingly drunk outside a strip club talking about a natural gas deal by his government.

The audio recording of Yair Netanyahu also includes talk of strippers and prostitutes.

Netanyahu’s family denounced the broadcast of the recording by Israel’s Channel 2 television late Monday as part of a witch-hunt, while Yair Netanyahu said he was obviously joking in the audio said to be from 2015.

APOLOGY

Speaking before meeting with ambassadors from Nato countries, Netanyahu stressed his son had apologised for speaking foolishly.

Yair Netanyahu, now 26, can be heard speaking with the son of Kobi Maimon, a stakeholder in a company that owns a share in Israel’s offshore Tamar gas field. “My dad arranged $20 billion for your dad — you can give me 400 shekels ($116),” he says.

Yair Netanyahu says his mother is calling him at one point.

At another point in the recording, someone else with them — Roman Abramov, a representative of Australian billionaire James Packer — says “God help us” if the conversation ever becomes public.

Yair Netanyahu issued a statement apologising and saying he was only joking about the gas deal while “under the influence of alcohol”.

“These statements do not represent who I am nor the values on which I was raised,” he said.

“Regarding what I said about the gas deal, it was a joke. Anyone with a bit of common sense understands that right away.”

CORRUPTION

Netanyahu faced a difficult political battle over Israel’s natural gas arrangements, with opponents saying they overly favour the companies involved.

Labour party leader Avi Gabbay said the recording was a “new stain on the corrupt gas deal”.

There was also criticism over Yair Netanyahu’s security arrangements, with at least two lawmakers calling for an investigation.

A security guard employed by the state purportedly accompanied Yair Netanyahu to the strip club.

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