The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sara, might be indicted for alleged misuse of state funds.
Netanyahu assumed office as the Prime Minister in March 2009. He is the first Israeli PM to have been born in the country. In 1996, he became the youngest person to have ever been elected as the Prime Minister of Israel. He has also served as the Finance Minister between 2002 and 2005. He is the first person, since Ben Gurion, to have be elected as the Prime Minister for a third term.
In August 2017, the Israeli police confirmed that Netanyahu was under investigation under suspicion of having committed “fraud, breach of trust and bribes” in two corruption cases. The cases revolve around Netanyahu allegedly taking gifts from wealthy benefactors and attempting to sway media coverage. This is the first time Netanyahu has been publicly designated a suspect. Netanyahu has staunchly denied the charges and has maintained that the investigation was politically motivated.
In the midst of the enfolding scandal, reports have emerged that Netanyahu’s wife will be indicted. The country’s Attorney General is expected to indict Sara Netanyahu for allegedly misusing public funds for personal expenses. She has been accused of diverting over $100,000 of public funds into housekeeping.
At the heart of the controversy is the former chief caretaker of the official residence, Meni Naftali. He is leading the movement against Netanyahu and his wife. However, the Prime Minister has said that Naftali had inflated the costs of the household on purpose. Speaking to his supporters during a rally, Netanyahu sarcastically said, “They’re dealing with the most important things in the world…the procedure for replacing a light bulb, trays of food, the cup of tea that was served to her father, a righteous man, on his deathbed.”
Sara Netanyahu has been accused of using state money to order food for personal use. She also allegedly used that money to pay for a caretaker for her father. She was interrogated regarding these cases for twelve hours.
A police spokeswoman in Israel has been reported as stating, “The findings of the investigation and case materials were transferred to Jerusalem District Prosecutor for review and a decision.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has argued that there is no reason for Netanyahu to quit, yet. She said, “At the moment there is no charge against him and there is no recommendation to charge him. The ones to take that decision are the attorney general and the state prosecutor. For now, let the Prime Minister get on with his job.”
Our assessment is this scandal might have the clout to pull Netanyahu from power. The Prime Minister himself has become more defiant and embraced a more populist outlook in light of this controversy.