J'lem District Attorney Says Netanyahu Acted Illegally in 'Amedi Moving Affair'

MK Benjamin Netanyahu acted illegally, was negligent toward the state, misrepresented the facts, and tried to get the public purse to cover tens, and even hundreds, of thousands of shekels of private expenses, according to the Jerusalem District Attorney's Office.

The Jerusalem district attorney has warned Netanyahu that if the court upholds contractor Avner Amedi's claim that the state owes him NIS 350,000, the state will sue the former prime minister for that amount minus NIS 50,000. The latter figure was approved for services provided to Netanyahu's family when he served as premier from 1996 to 1999.

Amedi is demanding the state pay him NIS 270,000 (in July 1998 terms) plus interest and linkage differentials for services provided to Netanyahu and his wife during his term in office. Amedi is being represented by attorneys Yaron Rabinowitz and Amir Fischer; attorney David Shimron is serving as Netanyahu's counsel. In April 2004, the court sanctioned a compromise between Rabinowitz and Shimron regarding mutual claims made by Amedi and Netanyahu against one another.

The affair centered on Amedi's statement that he "apologizes to Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu for the distress caused to them as a result of the affair." In keeping with Netanyahu's demand, the two sides undertook to keep details of the agreement confidential and not discuss them with "their friends, acquaintances and family members," or with strangers. However, a document submitted by Netanyahu's attorneys in the framework of Amedi's claim against the state indicates that the confidentiality was designed to cover up an embarrassing fact for Netanyahu, who secretly paid Amedi about NIS 70,000.

Netanyahu paid the contractor for private services rendered in the years prior to being elected prime minister, with the understanding that Amedi would be able to charge the state for services rendered while Netanyahu was prime minister.

In an affidavit submitted to the court at the end of June, Sara Netanyahu claimed that "the previous legal procedures prevent the possibility of another payment on our part. We would never have agreed to compromise with Amedi in the said affair had we known that there was a chance that we would have to pay an additional amount of any kind in the 'moving affair'."

The state in June submitted "a third-party notification" to the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, which is deliberating Amedi's civil suit against the state. The trial is approaching its evidentiary stage, and two sessions have been scheduled for January. The notification, signed by Jerusalem district attorneys Erez Padan and Liora Havilio, includes harsh claims regarding Netanyahu's behavior, and accuses him of "violating a legal obligation" under clauses in the Budget and Tenders laws.

The Jerusalem District Attorney's Office said Netanyahu was negligent in leading Amedi to believe that the state would cover the costs of the services rendered, including private ones, "without authorization, approval or consent, and without any legal foundation."

"The large number of moving operations, packing standards, haulage and work, along with the additional work and services he allegedly did for the Netanyahu family, on the backdrop of his personal relations and as a personal service to them, are not included in the framework of services that are covered by the state." the district attorney's office said.

Amedi's claim refers to 53 different packing and moving operations and services and about 100 "other tasks" defined as "service calls."

Yossi Iluz, one of Amedi's employees, said in his affidavit to the court that the extent of the work stemmed from "the unreasonable demands of the prime minister's family... We were forced to pack in an unreasonable and non-economical manner. Each and every item was wrapped in white paper and polyethylene, placed into a carton and double-sealed, in keeping with standards generally employed for air transportation, despite the fact that the move was to an apartment very nearby.

"In compliance with the demands of Mrs. Netanyahu, we were forced to use the same packing methods for children's toys too, or just simple and cheap items, which were a lot cheaper than the packaging material used to wrap them."

The Jerusalem District Attorney's Office has told the court that "the services and moving operations were privately done for the Netanyahu family. It is the sole beneficiary, and thus it is the correct address for [Amedi's] suit. The Netanyahu family was eligible for just two moving operations at the expense of the state... Amedi did not vie for a tender; his services were never hired by the Prime Minister's Office; and the Prime Minister's Office had no knowledge of them, and did not authorize them."