Over the last few months, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has come under withering criticism as accusations of inappropriate behavior by him and his advisers have increased. The accusations have been numerous and range from complaints that his government provided favors to Israel’s telecom giant, Bezeq, to charges that his confidantes were involved in a bribery scandal involving German shipbuilder Thyssen Krupp.
The charges leveled against Netanyahu involved not only his advisors but also his wife, Sara, who was accused of inappropriately accepting lavish gifts from two of Israel’s wealthiest businessmen and running up expenses using government funds. Now, Sara Netanyahu may face formal charges as the investigation into her behavior continues.
The first charges to be filed may include allegations that Sara Netanyahu accepted what was equal to $111,851 in Israeli shekels from Arnon Milchan, a wealthy Hollywood businessman, and James Packer, a billionaire from Australia. The gifts included champagne, expensive cigars, and jewelry. Netanyahu’s son, Yair, was also given free flights and bookings at hotels.
Sara also stands to be charged for fraudulent spending. Financial reports suggest that she ordered expensive meals from the prime minister’s official residence and then covered up the purchases. This accusation was first lodged by Israel’s State Comptroller in a report about inappropriate spending on Sara Netanyahu’s part.
Responding to the charge, Benjamin Netanyahu made it known he considered the gifts little more than presents between friends. Both Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu have already been questioned by the police, and now it seems the investigation into the scandal is about to escalate. Reports indicate that Israel’s attorney general is likely to make the charges against Sara Netanyahu official within just a few weeks and perhaps as soon as within 10 days. The case against Netanyahu was approved by the previous attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, and is now being overseen by current Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.
This is likely the first of many indictments that will be made in the coming weeks as members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s inner circle are brought forward on charges. Regarding allegations of inappropriately spending on dinners, Sara Netanyahu claimed that the caretaker of the prime minister’s residence, Meni Naftali, inflated the costs of living at the residence. However, Israeli law officials responded by saying Netanyahu’s pattern of purchases could be tracked to before the hiring of Naftali. By all indications, the formal indictment will likely list four separate criminal charges.
[Featured Image by Abir Sultan/AP Images, Pool]