The Prime Minister’s Office has suffered a major embarrassment after a special adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu told a newspaper that his wife Sara is directly involved in writing his speeches, contrary to what the prime minister’s staffers have been saying for years.
Sources close to Netanyahu say he has asked the adviser, Dr. Orit Galili, for clarifications and made clear that any interview and its message will have to be coordinated with him.
In the interview with the Globes financial daily, Galili said Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu were like Benjamin and Mary Anne Disraeli, noting that the 19th-century British prime minister’s wife helped him edit his books and speeches.
“What can you expect from the wife of a prime minister − certainly from a woman like Sara, who is a full partner in writing his speeches? Take the Bar-Ilan speech, for example, and the settlement freeze,” Galili said, referring to Netanyahu’s June 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University on the peace process.
“These are things that go through the home as well, and you need family backing to make the great moves .... Sara is certainly a woman who has many things to say.”
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office spoke of disbelief when reading the interview, which contradicted their strategy of assuring the media that Sara was too preoccupied with her work as a child psychologist and with raising the couple’s children to intervene in politics.
“It was astounding. Ms. Galili came and ruined a strategy we used for years,” one close Netanyahu associate told Haaretz. “What are we going to do now, say that we lied every time we said she doesn’t intervene?”
Galili was asked how Netanyahu, a municipal psychologist, gets enough vacation time to travel around so much. “First of all, she’s part-time,” Galili said. “Besides, she doesn’t go on 30 percent of the trips. Go and ask her superiors [at work] if she is doing her job.”
Galili also told Globes she doesn’t think the Netanyahus should try to conceal the luxury of their foreign travels.
“Unlike the media, which portrays a disconnected prime minister sleeping in the best hotels and being treated like a king, the public sees this as something to imitate,” she said. “Here’s someone who has made it; everybody knows Netanyahu is one of the most sought-after speakers. And the conditions in which he is hosted show that he is being rewarded for his success by being paid a lot of money.”
When asked if she believes that the public sees someone behaving like Netanyahu as a great guy, she said, “Yes. It’s like the way people in Israel don’t march in protest against the salaries [of people] in the highest positions.”
She said Israelis “see those who made it to that level as people who made dreams come true, and think it might happen to them as well if they know how to seize their chance.”
Speaking later in a radio program, Galili said she sees Sara Netanyahu as a mega-celebrity; that Sara is Israel’s most famous first lady ever. Galili said Sara receives many more positive comments in the social media than in the mainstream media, but also inevitably draws fire, like any celebrity. She went on to compare Sara Netanyahu to Michelle Obama.
Sources close to the prime minister said Netanyahu will not terminate Galili’s contract despite the controversy. The sources declined to comment on whether Sara Netanyahu is involved in writing the prime minister’s speeches, including his Bar-Ilan speech.
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