Israeli Prosecutors Say Sara Netanyahu Hasn’t Signed Plea Deal

The prime minister's wife is supposed to pay $15,000 in an agreement after she was indicted for allegedly misusing public funds

File photo: Sara Netanyahu during an official visit to Chad, 2019.

The state prosecution told the High Court of Justice on Monday that the plea agreement reached with the prime minister’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, in the case of alleged misuse of public funds in the Prime Minister’s residence, has yet to be signed.

Netanyahu’s lawyer, Yossi Cohen, asked the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court to delay by a day the presentation of the plea agreement and the corrected indictment. The request, which was submitted with the prosecution’s consent, said, “the requester needs a short delay of a day to clarify her position with regard to the plea agreement being formulated.”

The prosecution’s announcement, part of a response to a petition by journalist Uri Misgav against the plea bargain, said, “despite the fact that as part of the process of criminal mediation the parties reached agreements, the plea agreement has yet to be signed.”

As a result, the prosecution also asked for two more days to fully respond to Misgav’s petition.

Under the plea agreement, Netanyahu will repay the treasury 45,000 shekels ($12,552), pay a fine of 10,000 shekels and will be convicted of receiving something by intentionally exploiting another person’s mistake in a way that doesn’t constitute fraud. Netanyahu had been charged with aggravated fraud, fraud and breach of trust.

Last week Misgav, a Haaretz columnist, petitioned against the plea bargain, demanding it be voided because, “It is extremely unreasonable in relation to the initial indictment, contradicts the public interest and constitutes a severe blow to the principle of equality before the law.”

The agreement was preceded by more than half a year of negotiations, during which Judge Mordechay Caduri pressed the sides to come to a compromise. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit also preferred to avoid a trial. Before an indictment was handed down, Mendelblit proposed that Netanyahu admit to the allegations, promise not to repeat them and pay some of the money back to the state, but she rejected the proposal.

There were several other proposals made that were all rejected, mainly because of the sums the prosecution wanted Netanyahu to pay back, even though under some of the suggestions there would have been no conviction or conviction on a lesser charge.

The indictment against Netanyahu was filed in June 2018. It alleged that the prime minister’s wife ordered some $100,000 worth of catered meals to the Prime Minister’s residence, paid for with public funds, while concealing the fact that the residence employed a cook.

A plea deal was reached with the former deputy chief of the prime minister’s bureau, Ezra Saidoff, who was involved in ordering the catered meals and who will admit to the same crime. He will have to pay a fine of 10,000 shekels and do 120 hours of community service.