Enough of Condoning the Prime Minister’s Wife and Her Husband

The law enforcement system, which prides itself on its professionalism and independence, isn’t looking into suspicions equitably.

Amir Oren
Amir Oren
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in 2013.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, in 2013.Credit: Avishag Shaar-Yashuv
Amir Oren
Amir Oren

Israelis who recently visited the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, managed by the Hongkou District under the Chinese government’s patronage, were shocked to see in the site’s garden a small table with two wickerwork chairs and a sign proudly announcing the high-ranking dignitaries who visited in May 2013: Sara Netanyahu alongside her husband Benjamin Netanyahu.

A tourist who for years dreamed of touching a royal resting place couldn’t restrain himself and tried to sit on Sara’s chair. His guide drove him away — no one may sit on the holy throne, nor shall he use the emperor’s garden furniture.

There are prime ministers whose climb began at the Temple Mount, and those whose fall may begin with the caretaker of his official residence. The Netanyahus’ most recent embarrassing incident, for which the caretaker of their Caesarea home is suing them for abuse, is happening at the perfect time.

Maybe at last Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will be forced to use the same stringent criteria used against Gabi Ashkenazi, Silvan Shalom, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Meir Sheetrit. Enough of condoning the prime minister’s wife and her husband, the arbitrary investigations and selective enforcement.

Justice should be done, if the attorney general lets it be done; otherwise he should recuse himself for once representing Netanyahu in a case involving haulage contractor Avner Amedi and hand the job over to State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan.

In the complaint against Shalom, despite the statute of limitations, Weinstein made a public appeal amid hopes that proved false: He hoped he would encourage other women to uncover a character trait.

Accordingly, it should be noted that in 2006 prosecutors announced, in the aftermath of the Amedi affair, that despite the secrecy agreement similar to the one between Sheetrit and his housekeeper, Netanyahu was negligent toward the state and made false representations. It seems a blatant case of breach of trust, with less time elapsed than in the Shalom case. A character trait? This can’t be ruled out.

The law enforcement system, which prides itself on its professionalism and independence, isn’t looking into suspicions equitably. It follows the prevailing winds but stops midway, between Ashkenazi and Ehud Barak. After the Aryeh Deri affair, despite Yitzhak Rabin’s apathy toward corruption, law enforcement exhibited a certain pugnacity for a few years, which was blocked from above with help from within.

The commander of the investigators back then, Moshe Mizrahi, is now a Knesset member in a party headed by someone who maintained the right to remain silent, Isaac Herzog; Deri is also in the Knesset. But lenient former Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein closed, softened or diluted cases, as if he were haunted by the fear that a man acting like a wounded animal would harm his family.

Ariel Sharon won the 2003 election with heavier open files against him than those against present-day MKs. Reuven Rivlin leaked details of discussions at the Judicial Appointments Committee to Likud-linked businessman David Appel and got off scot-free.

The pendulum swings following the imprisonment of Abraham Hirchson and Moshe Katzav, and the Ehud Olmert trials ended the presumption of innocence and passed the burden of purity onto candidates for high positions, from Yoav Galant to Jacob Frenkel to Leo Leiderman and those aspiring to the presidency this year.

If Weinstein or Nitzan don’t give Netanyahu preferential treatment that would be vulnerable to High Court petitions, they should explain why they were so slow to link the Netanyahus’ attempt to pass their personal expenses onto the state coffers to the comments by their private home's caretaker.

At the same time, with the upgrading of rumors to reasons for launching investigations, we should verify once and for all – and it’s enough to begin with simple questions that can be answered by a sworn affidavit – if the Netanyahus signed a private contract that contradicts a prime minister’s ultimate obligation. Despite the temptation, the investigation should not be done a by three-man committee consisting of Netanyahu cronies Yaakov Neeman, Isaac Molho and David Shimron.

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