Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has appeared in court over a journalist’s claim that his wife, Sara, expelled him from an official motorcade during an argument.
Igal Sarna, a prominent journalist at Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, wrote on his Facebook page in 2015 that Sara Netanyahu had ordered the premier’s convoy to pull over on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem al-Quds highway so she could eject her husband in the middle of a furious row.
Sarna told Tel Aviv's magistrates court on Tuesday that he had heard the story from a friend who heard it from another friend in the prime minister's security detail.
"I am uncertain as to whether she threw him out or whether he ejected himself from the vehicle," he added.
However, the Netanyahus accused the columnist of a “disgusting, cynical, low, mean and inordinate” lie intended to “shame" and "embarrass them publicly.”
In response, Sarna insisted that his Facebook post was “entirely true, published in good faith based on proper and reliable sources, and bearing characteristics similar or identical to known episodes in the Netanyahus’ family life.”
A lawyer representing the Netanyahus said the couple were seeking an apology, the removal of Sarna's Facebook post and damages of 280,000 Israeli shekels ($76,500).
“Many things have been written, sometimes much worse, but in those cases you did nothing. Why?” Sarna asked the prime minister.
Israeli journalist Igal Sarna is seen before the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, to testify in a libel lawsuit they filed against the columnist, at the Tel Aviv magistrate court on March 14, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)
The defamation case against Sarna is just the latest instance in Netanyahu’s war with the Israeli media, with the premier claiming that news organizations and journalists are attempting to topple him by fabricating scandals.
This is while Netanyahu and his family have faced several corruption allegations over the past few years and multiple police investigations have been opened into the claims.
Netanyahu has allegedly accepted expensive gifts meant to influence policy and tried to negotiate a deal with Yedioth Ahronoth for more favorable coverage of his administration.