Trial of Mrs. Netanyahu Set to Begin

YERUSHALAYIM -
Security outside the prime minister’s residence in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The trial of Mrs. Sarah Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is set to open Sunday at the Yerushalayim District Court. Attorneys for Mrs. Netanyahu were optimistic that the case would be thrown out of court, or at least closed quickly. “For the first time in history an indictment was handed down on the basis of food trays, that were ordered by state witness Meni Naftali, against the wishes of Mrs. Netanyahu,” read a statement from her defense team, cited by Hadashot. “The indictment process did not follow proper procedure, and on procedures in the Prime Minister’s Office that are not even on the books. This indictment will not hold water.”

Mrs. Netanyahu was indicted in June, along with her assistant Ezra Seidoff. The indictment charges the two with a series of fraud-related crime, including misappropriating government funds, receiving illegal benefits, breach of trust, and forging documents. The charges are all related to the details of the management of the prime minister’s residence.

According to the indictment, Netanyahu and Seidoff conspired to extract more than NIS 350,000 from state coffers to pay for meals in restaurants and prepared food deliveries. According to rules governing the budget of the prime minister’s residence, prepared food deliveries were banned, as a full-time cook was available to prepare meals. The indictment said that the two conspired to misrepresent the facts, claiming that the meals were ordered because no cook was on staff.

It was Naftali who was actually in charge of the residence’s budget and would have signed off on the orders; he arranged for a plea deal with prosecutors in exchange for testimony against Mrs. Netanyahu. After he struck the deal, Naftali led numerous protests demanding that Mrs. Netanyahu be indicted. His trustworthiness as a witness is likely to be a major factor in the defense’s case, attorneys for Mrs. Netanyahu said in a statement.