The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning rejected the request of Yair Netanyahu, son of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to void the defamation lawsuit filed against him by former Walla website editor Avi Alkalay.
In February 2020, the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ruled that Netanyahu Jr. would pay a quarter of a million shekels ($75,000) to the editor of Walla because he shared information on social media that Alkalay was a “plant of the Wexner Foundation” who was involved in a conspiracy against his father.
The Wexner Foundation focuses on the development of Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in North America and public leaders in Israel. Founded by Leslie Wexner, CEO of Limited Brands, and his wife, Abigail Wexner, the headquarters are located in New Albany, Ohio with additional offices in New York City and Jerusalem.
In October 2018, Israeli reporter Erel Segal and the right-wing news outlet Mida reported that the Wexner foundation paid $2.3 million to former PM and DM Ehud Barak for unknown work between 2004 and 2006. Radio station 103FM reported that Ehud Barak had been given the funds while he was a private citizen and the fund transfer is under investigation. Bit the following November, after a call for an investigation by the attorney general of Israel had been filed, it was reported that contrary to initial claims, the Wexner funds had been transferred to Ehud Barak while he may not have been a private citizen.
According to the NY Times, American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was a trustee of the foundation from 1992 to 2007, and held “an unusually strong hold on Mr. Wexner,” receiving “the title of President of the Wexner family financial office.”
The Netanyahu Jr. post further stated that Alkalay participated in acts that deemed an investigation, and therefore he should be arrested. The information shared by Yair Netanyahu stated that Alkalay “fabricated” correspondence with former Walla editor Ilan Yeshua, a star witness in the case against Netanyahu Sr. Yair Netanyahu added to the original post the request “Share, share, share.”
Yair Netanyahu appealed the court’s decision, claiming that the indictment had not been lawfully delivered to him. Judge Kochava Levy on Monday rejected the claim that he had not received the indictment and ruled that the material was lawfully sent to him by registered mail. She also ruled that he must pay the plaintiff NIS 30,000 ($9,000) in legal fees.
Otzma Yehudit chairman MK Itamar Ben-Gvir issued a response to the judge’s ruling, saying, “The decision not to overturn the verdict that had been given in the absence of a defense for Yair Netanyahu has a strong political odor! In all my years as a lawyer I have not encountered a judgment in the absence of an undeniable defense, even if the defendant had zero claims. The defendant is always allowed to defend himself.”
Ben-Gvir was also critical of “the hallucinatory legal expenses: NIS 30,000 for a single request?” and suggested, “the district court will have to intervene.”