Israeli First Lady Sara Netanyahu Charged With Fraud For Using Public Funds To Order Gourmet Meals

Israeli law prohibits PM's residence to order food from outside when an in-house cook is available.

Sara Netanyahu charged with fraud.
Andrew Harrer / Getty Images

Israeli law prohibits PM's residence to order food from outside when an in-house cook is available.

The Israel PM’s wife Sara Netanyahu has been charged with a number of crimes, including fraud, for reportedly using government funds to pay for extravagant food at her residence in a scandal that has been dubbed the “Prepared Food Affair” by the Israeli press.

According to Haaretz, Netanyahu was charged along with Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, for ordering food from gourmet chefs in the period between 2010 to 2013, amounting to nearly $100,000. Israel’s constitution makes it illegal for a PM or his family to order outside food unless their staff does not include an in-house cook.

Sara Netanyahu was reportedly aware that she was violating the rules because her staff included a chef. The indictment claims that in order to circumvent the law, she ordered staff at the PM residence, including then-chief maintenance superintendent Meni Naftali, to conceal the fact that cooks were employed in the residence “so that this won’t be found out by the treasury and the office manager.”

Prosecutors claimed that they made a number of attempts to convince Sara Netanyahu to foot the bills for the extravagant meals but no agreement could be reached.

In response, Sara Netanyahu’s attorneys called the allegations “baseless and delusional,” saying that she had been unaware about the existence of any rules which violated outside food at the PM residence, and called into question the authority of such a rule itself.

“Not only is the indictment based on false claims and distorted and mistaken data, it is based entirely on an illegitimate and illegal regulation imposed specifically for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

“[The rules] were hastily written by three unauthorized clerks, expressly for Prime Minister Netanyahu, only five days before he took the job of prime minister in March 2009.”

This is, however, not the first time that the Israeli first lady has been accused of abusing her power. As reported by Quartz, a court awarded a former employee $42,000 after accusations arose that she mistreated him back in 2016. The first couple vehemently denied those allegations.

Benjamin Netanyahu has found himself dogged by accusations of corruption and wrongdoing during his tenure as the Israeli PM. According to Fox News, he and his family members were suspected of receiving jewelry, cigars, and other expensive gifts worth around $285,000. He has also been accused of giving special treatment to his friends in the Israeli media, who, in return, are alleged to have covered him positively in their newspapers.