PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, board a plane.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
For the second time in five days police questioned Sara Netanyahu on Monday in connection with an investigation of a case that has been dubbed the Prime Minister’s Residence Affair.
On Thursday, the prime minister’s wife was queried for around five hours with one short break. Despite the very public questioning, the Justice Ministry has not confirmed that Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein has approved opening a criminal investigation against Mrs. Netanyahu.
The questioning is focusing on Furnituregate and Electriciangate – under the heading of allegations of misuse of state funds in management of the residence, for the personal gain of the Netanyahu family.
A separate affair known as Bottlegate appears to have dropped off the radar screen.
The investigation had focused on Ezra Seidoff, one of the top deputies in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. The Prime Minister himself has been cleared of suspicion in the case.
Furnituregate refers to suspicions furniture bought with state funds for the official public residence may have been moved to the prime minister’s private residence in Caesarea.
Electriciangate refers to suspicions that the prime minister’s residence may have used an outside contractor to sidestep budget limits for covering the residence’s electricity costs.
A State Comptroller report in February said that hiring private contractor Avi Fahima involved “misleading representations.”
Fahima had been disqualified from working on the Netanyahus’ electrical systems on the state’s dime because of his prior relationship with them, yet suspicions have been reported that he ended up doing the work under the guise of working for a different contractor.
Mrs. Netanyahu was expected to claim she used private funds for any issue where use of public money would be controversial and that she did not manage Fahima’s work after her husband’s reelection as prime minister.
Seidoff has said he coordinated all decisions about the residence with Mrs. Netanyahu.
The investigation is a spinoff of a civil lawsuit by Meni Naftali, former House Manager of the Prime Minister’s residence that has been moving forward since a State Comptroller report issued weeks ahead of the March 17 elections.