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Netanyahu baselessly links Israel protests to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein

Netanyahu's corruption trial was announced to resume in January on the same day [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 July, 2020

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed, without evidence, that recent protests in Israel were linked to disgraced American financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, without evidence, linked recent protests across Israel to late convicted American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in a Sunday tweet.

For two weeks in a row, Israelis have protested against a perceived failed government response to the economic fallout from the novel coronavirus.

Critics say the government has provided too little assistance and doesn't offer a safety net for hundreds of thousands of self-employed workers and business owners to weather the crisis.

In his tweet, Netanyahu posted a photo that appeared to show a Palestinian flag waving being waved by protesters, and tried to blame former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

"The cat is out of the bag: the Palestinian Authority flag in a left-wing demonstration organised by Ehud Barak, the partner of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, yesterday outside the prime minister's house in Jerusalem," Netanyahu tweeted. "Shameful disgrace."

Netanyahu's post referred to recent criticism of Barak for his alleged ties to disgraced financier Epstein.

Epstein took his own life in his prison cell last year while awaiting trial for charges of the sex trafficking of underage girls.

After photos of Barak entering Epstein's New York residence in 2016 surfaced last year, the former prime minister insisted he was there for lunch or a conversation and "never met Epstein in the company of women or young girls".

However, Florida court filings last month revealed Barak was named by an Epstein victim as one of many prominent figures the financier allegedly forced her to have sex with as a teenager.

On the same day as Netanyahu's tweet was posted, a Jerusalem court decided the embattled prime minister's corruption trial will resume in earnest in January, with thrice-weekly evidentiary hearings set to begin then.

Netanyahu is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in a series of scandals in which he is alleged to have received lavish gifts from billionaire friends and exchanged regulatory favours with media moguls for more agreeable coverage of himself and his family.

The prime minister's convictions - which will see him standing trial while in office - have led to protests against his leadership.

Netanyahu's government has also come under fierce criticism for its response to the coronavirus crisis amid a new spike in cases.

While strict lockdown measures imposed in March helped control the disease, Netanyahu allowed the Israeli economy to reopen in late April and early May, leading to a rise in the infection rate.

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