JERUSALEM (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu tried to convince the owner of a popular news site to run a negative story about the wife of a political rival, according to a television report.
Israel Television News reported that the prime minister called on Shaul Elovitch — at the time the owner of Walla News — to run a report saying that Gilat Bennett, the wife of Education Minister and Jewish Home faction leader Naftali Bennett, once worked as a chef in a nonkosher restaurant. The report, about events said to have happened in 2002, was never published.
The police have previously recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for allegedly offering Elovitch favors in exchange for better coverage. Earlier this week they again recommended his indictment in a separate case in which he stands accused of offering a similar quid pro quo to the owner of the Yediot Acharanot daily newspaper.
Bennett described the prime minister’s alleged attempt to tar his wife as as “despicable and cowardly act.” In turn, the Likud party accused the prominent national-religious politician of hypocrisy and of slandering first lady Sara Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has previously complained about press coverage of his own family. Earlier this year Sara Netanyahu was indicted for allegedly using $100,000 in state funds to order takeout from high-end restaurants despite employing a cook at government expense. Police have recommended she be indicted in the Elovitch case as well.