Sara Netanyahu's Lawyers Offer to Repay Misused Funds if Case Is Closed

Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers, in meeting with Israel’s attorney general, say prosecutors miscalculated the extent of the alleged fraud in connection to meals at the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence

Sara Netanyahu.
\ Ilan Assayag

Lawyers for the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Wednesday with Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit in an attempt to persuade the state not to charge her with misusing state funds at the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem. The lawyers said that in return for ending the investigation without an indictment, Sara Netanyahu would admit to having misappropriated government funds and would reimburse the state.

In September, Mendelblit announced aggravated fraud charges against Sara Netanyahu, pending a hearing. She is accused of misusing 359,000 shekels ($102,000 according to the exchange rate at the time) in state funds, ordering expensive meals from restaurants and private chefs while falsely claiming that the residence did not employ a cook.

In January, Mendelblit held a five-hour pre-indictment hearing with Sara Netanyahu’s lawyers, which was followed up by an exchange of documents as part of the pretrial process.

In Wednesday’s meeting, her lawyers requested a review of the amounts of money involved, saying prosecutors erred in their calculations and that the actual sums are much smaller. The lawyers proposed appointing a party to examine their claims. They said that if their estimate of the extent of the fraud is accepted, they will propose closing the case in return for an admission of guilt and the repayment of the amounts involved.

Prosecutors recommended closing four out of the five cases against Sara Netanyahu investigated by the police, and Mendelblit accepted their recommendation. Now, even after the hearings, the State Prosecutor’s Office still feels she should be prosecuted in the remaining case.

A representative for Sara Netanyahu's lawyers said in response that "all reports coming from meetings with the attorney general are false."