Israeli Prosecutors Dragging Feet on Indicting Sara Netanyahu

Six months ago police recommended charging premier's wife for irregularities in running their residences; implicated deputy director of Prime Minister's Office has been questioned again.

Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at an event at the home of the Egyptian ambassador to Israel, July 28, 2016.
Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at an event at the home of the Egyptian ambassador to Israel, July 28, 2016.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Sharon Pulwer
Sharon Pulwer

Half a year has passed since the Israel Police recommended indicting Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for financial irregularities in managing the prime minister’s residences – and the State Prosecutor’s Office has yet to reach a decision on the matter.

The police handed the case over to Jerusalem District prosecutors in April, and on a number of occasions they in turn asked the police to carry out further investigation of the affair. The police's Lahav 443 national fraud squad is handling the case.

Two weeks ago, according to one source, Ezra Saidoff, the former deputy director general in the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of material and operational resources, was questioned once again in connection with the affair. For her part, however, Sara Netanyahu has not been questioned again during the entire intervening period, nor has her lawyer been asked to provide any further clarifications on issues raised during the investigation.

The State Prosecutor’s Office refused to comment on developments related to the inquest.

Saidoff’s lawyer, Gadi Tal, said the investigation has taken much longer than it should have, especially in light of the fact that his client has been suspended from his job until a decision is reached. Tal reiterated that Saidoff is innocent of all charges of improper conduct that were brought against him, and said that the police say Saidoff did not receive any personal benefits as a result as a result of the affair. Tal added that he expected the prosecutors to close the case against his client.

Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers declined to comment.

Investigators from the Lahav 443 unit discovered an evidentiary basis to charge Sara Netanyahu in three separate affairs; possible charges include aggravated fraudulent receipt on three separate counts. In one case, there has been a recommendation to indict Netanyahu for ordering food and hiring private chefs for family events that were paid for by the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem. It is suspected that private family entertainment expenses were financed by public funding.

In another case, the police recommended charging the prime minister’s wife for paying expenses for a live-in caregiver for her father from the budget of the Prime Minister’s Residence.

In the third case – involving alleged improprieties at both the Jerusalem residence and the family's home in Caesarea – an evidentiary basis was found to indict three people: Sara Netanyahu, Saidoff, and Avi Fahima, a former Likud Central Committee member who has been close to the prime minister for years and often did work at the Caesarea residence in the years when Netanyahu was not serving in office.

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