Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein will make a decision by the end of the week on whether to open a criminal investigation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of public funds at his Jerusalem residence, legal sources said Saturday night.
Netanyahu hired renowned criminal lawyer Jacob Weinroth to represent him and persuade Weinstein not to open a criminal probe.
Channel 2 reported that he sent the attorney general a letter in which he downplayed the three issues that State Comptroller Joseph Shapira suggested may be criminal in his report last week.
Weinroth wrote that Netanyahu’s wife Sara was entitled to money received from recycling bottles, that the state is legally required to pay for the prime minister’s lawn furniture, and that there is no evidence proving that Netanyahu was aware that a former Likud central committee member was employed as an electrician at his home in Caesarea on weekends and on Yom Kippur.
Police received material evidence on such issues from the disgruntled former manager of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, Meni Naftali, during a marathon 12-hour session of questioning at the headquarters of the police LAHAV 433 unit in Lod Thursday night, according to Naftali’s attorney.
Attorney Ofer Almog, told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday night that his client handed over a USB flash drive and other documents and receipts that backed up his testimony about the conduct of the Netanyahu couple during his time working at the residence.
Almog said that the investigation was 12-hours of systematic and highly- detailed questioning, and that he and Naftali are certain that the attorney general will rule in favor of opening a criminal investigation into the allegations.
He repeated his assertion and that of Naftali that his client is not linked to any political party or operatives and that no one is backing him. Channel 1 reported that Naftali gave police information about Sara Netanyahu insisting on cleaning supplies and memorial candles purchased for the official residence in Jerusalem being transferred to the Netanyahus’ private home in Caesarea.
Police did not confirm Almog’s assertions about the evidence presented during the questioning of Naftali.
Police are expected to hand over their findings from the questioning to the Attorney-General’s Office in the coming days.
Naftali is expected to receive immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony. More staffers in Netanyahu’s residence are expected to be questioned this week, perhaps even including his close confidant Ezra Saidoff, the Prime Minister’s Office deputy director-general in charge of everything related to his residences.
Besides Weinroth, Netanyahu is represented by former police northern commander, Ya’acov Borovsky, and his partner at his legal office, Shuli Eshbol.
Eshbol is a former Labor legal adviser, who was placed in the symbolic 62nd slot on the party’s list for the next Knesset. She said she had no problem separating her personal support for Labor from her legal work for Netanyahu.
But Labor officials said Eshbol’s representing Netanyahu was problematic.