Monday, 16 July, 2018

Sara Netanyahu's lawyer: Fraud indictment is 'ridiculous and bizarre'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the opening of a special exhibit on Jewish presence in Jerusalem at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israel’s PM, charged with fraud
Lisa Bryan | 21 June, 2018, 21:30

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was on Thursday officially indicted on charges of aggravated fraud and breach of trust, according to the Justice Ministry.

Netanyahu's wife is accused of instructing staff at the prime minister's residence to order meals from posh restaurants, a violation of rules that bar ordering outside food when there's a cook on staff.

The justice ministry announced that "the Jerusalem district prosecutor. filed charges against the prime minister's wife".

This isn't the first time the Netanyahus have been at the centre of gastronomic controversy. Netanyahu also faces several police investigations into alleged corruption, including accepting expensive gifts from billionaire friends. He is also being investigated in a third case, and some of his close associates are being investigated in an additional case.

The indictment says Sara Netanyahu falsely claimed there were no cooks on staff when the meals were ordered.


Israel's attorney-general is still weighing whether to indict him. The indictment follows unsuccessful attempts to settle the matter outside court, with Sara Netanyahu refusing to pay back the amount she used for the meals and admit the allegations against her. "There was no fraud or breach of trust or any offense".

Netanyahu has basked in months of political success, including the Trump administration's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and its move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, taking away attention from a series of corruption investigations facing the prime minister. Her husband is now facing a number of criminal investigations relating to allegations of corruption. Both Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu have been questioned in relation to the probe, known as "Case 4,000", of which Mrs. Netanyahu is a suspect.

In the other case, investigators suspect the premier of trying to reach an agreement with the owner of Yediot Aharonot, a top Israeli newspaper, for more favourable coverage.

Netanyahu has protested his innocence and vowed to remain in power, saying he is the victim of a "witch-hunt".

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