Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded harshly on Friday to the decision to indict his wife Sara with fraud involving hundreds of thousands of shekels in meal expenses, saying it was a "new height of absurdity."
"For the first time in history an indictment is filed against a leader's wife for food and precooked meals," he said in a video posted on his Facebook page, adding: "This is an illegal procedure, and an indictment based on an illegal procedure will not hold water."
The State Prosecutor's Office is accusing Sara Netanyahu of systematically cheating the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem of a total of 350,000 shekels ($96,000) worth of meals from gourmet restaurants between 2010 and 2013.
The indictment alleges that Sara Netanyahu "acted by exploiting her status as the wife of the prime minister." Sara Netanyahu was charged along with Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister's Office.
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The indictment was filed at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court. The charges include aggravated fraudulent receiving of an item or items, fraud and breach of trust. Saidoff was also charged with falsification by a public servant.
Sara Netanyahu's lawyers, Jacob Weinroth, Yossi Cohen and Amit Hadad, said that "the indictment is baseless and delusional." According to her attorneys, former house manager Mani Naftali was responsible for ordering meals.
Haaretz reported on Thursday that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit had hoped that Sara Netanyahu would take a certain line of defense: "Why don't they bring a letter from a doctor?" he once asked some of his staff in frustration. And at a closed meeting with employees of a media organization, Mendelblit had hinted at Sara Netanyahu's psychological problems.