PM’s Wife Closes ‘Household Case’ With Fine, Payment

YERUSHALAYIM -
A security guard walks at the entrance to the Prime Minister’s residence in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Mrs. Sarah Netanyahu has settled with the state over the so-called “Household Scandal,” in which she was accused of a series of improprieties regarding the running of the household of the Prime Minister. In a plea deal that closes the case and leaves her with no criminal charges, Mrs. Netanyahu will pay the state NIS 55,000 – NIS 10,000 in fines, and NIS 45,000 in payments for services the state alleges she improperly received.

The case has dogged the Netanyahus for at least three years, and both she and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were interrogated for criminal activity. An investigation was first ordered by then- State Attorney Yehuda Weinstein after a report by the State Comptroller in early 2015 set off a media firestorm on the way she was managing affairs in the Prime Minister’s residence. The investigation was carried on by current State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit.

Many legal experts had termed the infractions “nonsense,” but in several statements, Weinstein’s office had said that an investigation into the alleged infractions would be proper because of the Netanyahus’ political standing. Weinstein opened a criminal investigation into the infractions, which included the alleged pocketing by Mrs. Netanyahu of money for bottles of beverages that were purchased with state funds that were returned by her to recycling centers, the use of an electrician who was not vetted by the State Budget Office to repair several problems in the Prime Minister’s Residence, the alleged use of government funds to buy medicines and pay for supplies for her father, who was living in the the Prime Minister’s Residence at the time, and the use of state funds to buy furniture and pay for repair services for the Netanyahus’ residence in Caesarea.

The arrangement – by a judge who acted as an arbitrator, with no criminal proceedings – was far less than the state had originally demanded to settle the case. According to the judge, the public interest demanded that the case be closed, the sooner the better.