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Epstein case oozes into Israeli political mud as Netanyahu, Barak trade barbs

Published: July 8, 2019
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Disgraced US billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, arrested on fresh sex-trafficking charges Saturday, was injected into Israel’s political scrum Sunday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighting Epstein’s alleged connection to rival Ehud Barak.

Epstein, a wealthy hedge fund manager who once counted as friends former US President Bill Clinton, Great Britain’s Prince Andrew, and US President Donald Trump, was taken into federal custody Saturday and is expected to appear Monday in Manhattan federal court, according to law enforcement officials. 

One of the officials said Epstein is accused of paying underage girls for massages and molesting them at his homes in Florida and New York in the early 2000s.

In 2008, Epstein was sentenced to 13 months in jail after pleading guilty in a plea deal to lesser charges of soliciting and procuring a person under age 18 for prostitution, averting a possible life sentence. He is since a registered sex offender.

On Sunday morning, Netanyahu tweeted a screenshot of a Hebrew-language report about Epstein’s arrest and his ties to Barak, a former prime minister who has emerged as a major rival in upcoming elections.

“And the media is silent,” Netanyahu wrote.

Barak, who was prime minister in 1999-2001, last week announced a return to politics after quitting in 2013 and the establishment of his new Israel Democratic Party, vowing to defeat Netanyahu in September.

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