Netanyahu Lashes Out at Media Over Wife's Bottle Recycling Scandal

Israeli prime minister on Facebook promotes conspiracy theory that press is out to get him and Likud by attacking his wife over bottle recycling.

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The Netanyahus in December. The prime minister says certain forces in the press are using the story over Sara's recycling to defeat him and his party.
The Netanyahus in December. The prime minister says certain forces in the press are using the story over Sara's recycling to defeat him and his party.Credit: Emil Salman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the brouhaha over the revelation that his wife Sara forced staffers in their official residence to hand over bottle deposit money worth thousands of shekels on Friday.

"It's an old, overblown, recycled story," the prime minister said in a Facebook post in response to the story broken by Haaretz this week. "How did a marginal event from years ago turn into huge, negative headlines precisely on election eve? The answer is simple. There are powerful forces in the Israeli press that believe in recycling, not bottles but rather an illegitimate way of biting back at me through trendy and twisted mudslinging against my wife with the goal of upending the Likud under my leadership from power."

According to the Haaretz report, Sara Netanyahu kept thousands of shekels from deposits on empty bottles that were returned, on her orders, to supermarkets in Jerusalem even though the bottle deposits were state property, starting with Netanyahu's return to power in 2009. The couple returned 4,000 shekels ($1,000) two years ago, estimating that the deposits totaled 1,000 shekels per year.

"There is no limit to the method of denunciations, in which leading figures in the media are trying to topple the Likud regime under my leadership and replace it with a leftwing government headed by Tzipi and Bougie," wrote Netanyahu, referring to Zionist Camp leaders Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog. "Amid the security situation on the northern border, and Iran's race to a bad nuclear deal that will endanger Israel's security, the 'existential' question is conspicuously covered: recycling bottles in the Prime Minister's Residence."

He ended by charging that unending mudslinging against his wife, hurting him and his family, seems to be kosher during an election campaign. "But one thing they don't take into account," he added. "The Israeli public is smarter than that."

Some time after the post, Netanyahu uploaded a new post, deleting the former one. The two were nearly identical but for a new paragraph confirming that his wife indeed turned over 4,000 shekels to the State for accumulated bottle deposit money.

Earlier on Friday, it was reported that State Comptroller Joseph Shapira has been holding up a report on seemingly excessive expenditures at the prime minister’s residences for weeks, after Netanyahu’s lawyer asked him not to publish it before the March election.

A source familiar with the report said its publication before Election Day could damage Netanyahu’s image.

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