On Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, appeared in Jerusalem Magistrate’s court for the first hearing in the fraud trial and breach of trust against her.
Sara Netanyahu, 59, alleged to have misused of taxpayer funds. She fraudulently obtained from the state more than $100,000 for hundreds of meals ordered from high-end restaurants and chefs. For example, prosecutors say Netanyahu ordered meals totaling 24,164 shekels — more than $6,500.
Will you offer us a hand? Every gift, regardless of size, fuels our future.
Your critical contribution enables us to maintain our independence from shareholders or wealthy owners, allowing us to keep up reporting without bias. It means we can continue to make Jewish Business News available to everyone.
You can support us for as little as $1 via PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the indictment filed in June, Sara Netanyahu was charged, along with a government employee at the couple’s official residence at Balfour Street, with fraud and breach of trust and of aggravated fraudulent receipt of goods. She bypassed regulations that prohibit the practice if a cook is employed at home.
Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. If she convicted, Netanyahu could face up to five years in prison.
According to Reuters Sara Netanyahu pointed at the photographers: “Can we ask them to move the cameras away?”, she asked the lawyer for the other defendant, who replied: “You’re used to it.”
“Not like this,” Netanyahu answered. She shook her head as the prosecutor described the gravity of her case.
The session, however, dealt mainly with procedural matters. The judge set a meeting with the prosecutors and the defendants’ lawyers for Nov. 13 in which he said he hoped all sides could narrow their differences “or even resolve the case”.
But a settlement at this stage appears remote because the prosecutors would likely demand Netanyahu plead guilty, something her lawyer has ruled out. She was not asked at the hearing to enter a plea.
Netanyahu’s lawyers contend the indictment does not hold up because the regulations for ordering meals were legally invalid and a household employee had requisitioned the food despite Netanyahu’s protestations.
The prime minister, who himself is embroiled in corruption investigations, has called the allegations against his wife absurd and unfounded.
A former housekeeper at the PM’s residence, Meni Naftali, have complained of cruel treatment at the hands of Sara Netanyahu. Naftali won a workplace mistreatment case against Netanyahu in a labor court, where he was awarded more than $40,000.