Sara Netanyahu sitting next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu .
(photo credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / AFP)
Ten weeks after police recommended to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit that Sara Netanyahu be indicted her for several related sagas connected to the “Prime Minister’s Residence Affair,” the Justice Ministry said Monday there is no time frame for such a move. “The case is being reviewed and still no decision has been reached,” the ministry said.
Sara Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.
The handling of the case is a hot potato for Mandelblit who worked for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as his cabinet secretary before taking up his current post. Political insiders believe he got the job due to Netanyahu’s backing – though he was selected by a committee of legal professionals.
Some even called on Mandelblit to recuse himself from handling any cases linked to the Netanyahus as his predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein, had done with former client Ehud Olmert.
Police recommended indicting Sara for fraud and breach of trust charges related to using public funds for purchasing food, paying special chefs and related costs for hosting private events. Mandelblit is not bound by the police recommendation and prosecutors have disregarded police recommendations in the past.
Up to a certain point, the state does carry a wide array of any prime minister’s expenses since hosting ambassadors, ministers and foreign heads of state is part of the job.
The police also recommended indicting Sara for using state funds to pay a caretaker for her ill father.
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Each of these instances are less famous than “Bottle-gate,” “Furniture Gate,” “Bed-gate” and other scandals which had gotten more coverage in the press until now, but appear to be off the radar screen at this point.
The police separately recommended indicting Ezra Seidoff, a top deputy in the Prime Minister’s Office, and the family’s electrician Avi Fahima in that scandal. Fahima was prohibited from carrying out work for the Netanyahus due to a conflict of interest, but allegedly did so anyway using a straw company as cover so that the conflict would not be flagged. Part of that scandal was also that Fahima was called to work frequently on weekends and even Yom Kippur despite rules against such impositions.
Some of the allegations against Sara stem from a February 2015 State Comptroller’s Report on a range of issues with the Prime Minister’s Residence which surfaced weeks before the last national election. At the time, the prime minister viewed the allegations as a major threat.
Other allegations came as a spin-off from a civil labor court trial by former Netanyahu house manager Meni Naftali who won an NIS 170,000 judgment against the Netanyahus in February for poor treatment and failure to pay overtime.Ben Hartman contributed to this report.
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