Report: Former Official Says Sara Netanyahu Ordered Him to Order Gourmet Meals at Taxpayer Expense

Ezra Saidoff blamed Sara Netanyahu during hearing over fraud indictments

Sara Netanyahu, second from right, and Melania Trump walking with their husbands, U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before a dinner at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Ezra Saidoff, the deputy director general in the Prime Minister’s Office who has been suspended from his job, told prosecutors that Sara Netanyahu ordered him to order gourmet meals from restaurants and famous chefs, Channel 10 News reported Tuesday evening.

Saidoff changed parts of his story during a hearing last week with prosecutors before they decide whether to formally indict him and Sara Netanyahu. The two are suspected of fraudulently ordering hundreds of thousands of shekels of gourmet meals for the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem under the false pretext that no cook was working at the residence.

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“How can I say no to Sara Netanyahu,” said Saidoff, who said he ordered the meals at her direct instructions, reported Channel 10. “I’m no gatekeeper,” said Saidoff, who said the former chief caretaker at the Prime Minister’s official residence, Meni Naftali, ordered some of the meals too.

Saidoff also said that he was not involved in ordering work from electrician Avi Fahima, who allegedly carried out work at the Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea at the public’s expense – but these charges were not included in the draft indictment. Saidoff said Sara Netanyahu’s secretary had ordered Fahima’s work.   

Saidoff has been notified by Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit that he is facing charges of fraud, breach of trust and falsifying documents.

Last week, Mendelblit held a five-hour hearing with Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers, who tried to convince him not to indict her on charges of aggravated fraud and breach of trust. She did not attend the hearing.

Sara Netanyahu is suspected of fraud related to 359,000 shekels ($106,000) worth of meals, while Saidoff is accused of fraud concerning 393,000 shekels for meal. Why the two amounts are different is not clear. 

Part of Sara Netanyahu’s defense involves blaming Naftali, saying he was responsible for ordering the meals. In addition, her lawyer said ordering the meals, even if a cook was employed at the residence, is not a crime.