This article titled “Netanyahu’s son ‘sorry’ for boasts about gas deal outside strip club” was written by Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 9th January 2018 20.29 Asia/Kolkata
Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair has issued an apology amid continuing controversy over an apparently drunken recording of him outside a strip club suggesting his father helped push through a $20bn (£14.8bn) deal to the benefit of a gas tycoon.
The statement issued by the 26-year-old emerged as the Israeli prime minister issued his own statement amid continuing political fallout from the tape.
Commentators had focused as much on the fact that Yari Netanyahu had been driven between strip clubs by a government-supplied driver and state bodyguard on a drunken evening out as much as his boasts about the highly lucrative and controversial gas deal.
Those remarks, however, led to further criticism of his father’s handling of Israel’s natural gas industry at a time when the prime minister faces two unrelated corruption investigations.
Despite the apology, and the Israeli prime minister’s own statement criticising his son, the Netanyahu family denounced the broadcast of the tape by Israel’s Channel 2 television late on Monday, claiming it was part of a politically inspired witch-hunt.
In the tape Yair Netanyahu 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 $20bn for your dad – you can give me 400 shekels [ £86],” he said in a conversation that also included talk about prostitutes and strippers.
Although he did not deny the content of the recording or the events depicted, Yair Netanyahu tried to cast himself as the victim in his statement.
“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 conversation under the influence of alcohol, I spoke nonsense about women and other things that were better left unsaid.
“These remarks do not reflect who I am, the values on which I was raised and my beliefs. I regret the remarks and apologise 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,” he said.
The Israeli prime minister also tried to turn the tables on the media for broadcasting the tape, suggesting it had been shopped round for money.
“My son was correct in saying yesterday that he had spoken foolish words. He said, it’s not me, Yair. He said that these are not the values that characterise him. And he’s right,” the Israeli prime minister said after a meeting with Nato ambassadors in Jerusalem.
The emergence of the tape has renewed political interest in the controversial gas deal, with opponents having claimed it overly favoured the companies involved. Among crtitics was the Israeli Labour party leader, Avi Gabbay, who said the recording was a “new stain on the corrupt gas deal”.
Netanyahu, however, rejected the claim, saying: “Everyone who understands the details of the gas deal … knows that the argument that I somehow favoured Kobi Maimon is absurd.”
There was also criticism over Yair Netanyahu’s security arrangements, with at least two lawmakers calling for an investigation.
Writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, Sima Kadmon summed up the reaction of many commentators over the affair: “If this were not the prime minister’s son, there might be something to be said for the response of the Netanyahu family, that this is cheap and malicious gossip.
“But this young man, who was sitting in a car paid for by all of us with a driver and a bodyguard paid for by all of us, who spoke in gutter language about prostitutes […] he is not everyone’s child.”
Yair Netanyahu has been subject of controversy in the past.
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