Adviser accuses Bennett of stealing campaign ideas, PM makes settlement offer

Udi Reiter had threatened a lawsuit over not even being credited for plans Bennett rolled out as his own.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A lawyer for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett made a final compromise offer Monday to a political adviser who had demanded NIS 600,000 for using his ideas in the last election campaign without paying or even crediting him, Walla reported Tuesday.

Adv. Amichai Weinberger sent Udi Reiter a letter saying that Reiter had two weeks to accept NIS 30,000 in compensation for his advice during the campaign. If the offer was rejected, “the negotiations would cease…and we will pay nothing,” he wrote.

As acknowledged in correspondence between Reiter, Bennett and Ayelet Shaked of his New Right party, the adviser’s ideas formed the basis of the battle plan Bennett presented to the public in January to exit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Reiter also pointed to Whatsapp messages showing that he had suggested the economic “Singapore Plan” Bennett proposed in February, when he claimed that he could double Israel’s standard of living within a decade by reducing taxes and red tape while streamlining government functions and pushing people into the workforce.

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Correspondence obtained by Israel Hayom revealed that it was not just a case of a concerned citizen offering suggestions to a politician he favored. Bennett had also sent urgent messages to Reiter several times for talking points to use before interviews, such as when he was scheduled to appear on Channel 12 News one evening and wrote, “Come on, Udi, [give me] ideas.”

On the other hand, other communication published in the Israel Hayom report showed that Reiter knew he wouldn’t be paid for his input, although he did care about receiving proper credit.

Right before Bennett published his Corona plan, Reiter sent him a clear message: “My copyright!” He then added, “If I’m not working for pay then I have the copyright on all the material….You can talk about it in any forum but add my name.”

“This is exploitation, although you didn’t promise me a salary or promise me anything,” Reiter wrote to Bennett, according to the Walla report.

Some three weeks ago, Israel Hayom reported that Reiter had demanded a smaller amount, NIS250,000, for copyright infringement. Bennett made a counter-offer of NIS85,000 through a different lawyer, but according to the report, Reiter refused it.

The letter contained a possible reason for the reduced proposal.

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“An examination of the relevant materials clearly shows that the ‘plans’ presented by Reiter to the party or anyone on its behalf are nothing more than a recycled collection of ideas – generic ones, it should be noted – which are not protected legally or [from being] copied by others.”

Reiter dismissed the lawyer’s allegations, calling them “a distortion.”