TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday charged political rival and former prime minister Ehud Barak with having ties to Jeffrey Epstein a day after the billionaire was arrested in New York on allegations of child sex trafficking.
Epstein, a hedge fund manager who counted heads of state such as former president Bill Clinton among his friends, is accused of having sexual encounters with dozens of underage girls at his Palm Beach, Florida residence.
Epstein was sentenced to 13 months in jail in 2008 after pleading guilty to a charge of soliciting prostitution from a minor. He was subsequently required to register as a sex offender.
Netanyahu tweeted a screenshot of a Hebrew-language report about Epstein’s arrest and his connection to Barak.
“And the media is silent,” Netanyahu wrote.
והתקשורת שותקת pic.twitter.com/80qDwYQq4j
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) July 7, 2019
The report claimed that one of Epstein’s top clients is the founder of the Wexner Foundation, which gave Barak $2.3 million between 2004 and 2006. According to the report, it was the largest grant awarded by the foundation during those years, comprising half of its total expenditure in Israel. Barak made the claim that he was awarded the grant for his research, the report said. However, to date no such research has come to light, the report stated, and both Barak and the foundation have refused to give details.
It added that Epstein had been a trustee of the foundation when it again awarded Barak $1 million in 2004.
In a sarcastic tweet, Barak mocked Netanyahu for being one to talk when he himself is facing several criminal charges.
“It pains me to hear that people I know get in trouble and face criminal charges. First Netanyahu, now Epstein,” he wrote. “I wish for both of them that the truth will come out.”
כואב לשמוע שאנשים שאני מכיר הסתבכו בפלילים.
קודם נתניהו, עכשיו אפשטיין.
מאחל לשניהם שהאמת תתברר עד תומה. נקודה pic.twitter.com/R74rKmyfM0
— אהוד ברק (@barak_ehud) July 7, 2019
On Sunday, Netanyahu’s Likud party repeatedly claimed that Barak had attended a party thrown by Epstein in 2016, a claim Barak denied.
In an interview with 103FM radio, Barak denied attending Epstein’s party and said he wasn’t the only one on friendly terms with the tycoon.
“Donald Trump and Bill Clinton also knew Epstein,” he said in an interview with 103FM radio. He added that he was first introduced to Epstein by late Israeli president Shimon Peres.