Sara Netanyahu Signs Plea Deal, Will Pay $15,000 for Misuse of Public Funds

Prime minister's wife originally charged with aggravated fraud, fraud and breach of trust

Sara Netanyahu at the Jerusalem District Court, June, 2019.
Amit Shabi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara, signed Wednesday a plea deal in the case of alleged misuse of public funds in the Prime Minister’s residence.

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.

On Sunday, Netanyahu will have to admit her actions before the Jerusalem District Court.  

Netanyahu had been charged with aggravated fraud, fraud and breach of trust.

On Monday, the prosecution informed the High Court of Justice that the plea bargain had been agreed on but hadn’t yet been signed. It also said Netanyahu had requested that the submission of the plea bargain and the amended indictment be postponed by one day, because she needs another day “to clarify her position regarding the emerging plea bargain,” in the words of her lawyer, Yossi Cohen. The request for a postponement was submitted to the magistrate’s court with the prosecution’s consent.

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.

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.