Clear evidence proves PM Netanyahu guilty of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, along with high crimes of war and against humanity, leading Western and Israeli politicians virtually never are held accountable for.
Yet he avoided accountability so far, escaping indictment after years of investigation, and Israeli police recommending charges against him.
Justice may never be served. His approval rating is higher than when last reelected. If another election was held today, he’d clearly remain PM, heading coalition governance. No single Israeli party ever won a clear majority.
Sara Netanyahu escaped indictment for years, despite clear evidence of fraud – until Thursday.
She’s charged, along with her husband’s former deputy director general Ezra Saidoff, with aggravated fraudulent receiving of an item or items, fraud and breach of trust.
He’s charged with falsification by a public servant. Earlier, Jerusalem’s Labor Court found her guilty of subjecting former employee Guy Eliyahu to humiliating treatment. Judge Dita Pruginin fined her around $30,000 in damages.
For many months, she potentially faced multiple charges of inflating amounts paid a chef used to prepare meals at the official residence for guests and family members.
Chickens finally came home to roost. They should have come around years earlier.
In July 2015, Israel’s State Comptroller Joseph Shapira reported evidence of significant Netanyahu family financial improprieties, saying a criminal investigation was warranted.
Shapira called expenditures for two personal residences in Jerusalem and Caesarea excessive and improper without integrity or transparency. Large sums were involved.
Netanyahu and wife used government funds for various personal expenses, including food, hospitality, cleaning, maintenance, electrical work, makeup, hairstyling and personal travel.
Hundreds of thousands of shekels were spent on food alone, said Shapira, even though the official Netanyahu residence employed a chef.
His office employees at times were forced to pay certain work-related expenses out-of-pocket – without reimbursement, Shapira saying:
“When a PMO employee is forced to pay from his own pocket for an expenditure by the prime minister, this is improper administration, and it makes no difference whether the sum is large or small.”
The Netanyahus spent $20,000 on their weekend residence for water alone, another $2,500 for ice cream, over $100,000 to install a bed in the PM’s plane for a five-hour flight.
Netanyahu official and family expenses “were made without a process that analyzed needs of determined estimated” amounts required, Shapira explained, stressing:
“This did not meet a single criteria for the rules of proper management, and hurt the ability to carry out proper auditing and oversight.”
Most of the above is excluded from Sara’s indictment. She’s charged with ordering meals from gourmet restaurants costing around $100,000. Despite having a state-supplied cook, her actions breached Israeli law – knowing it was wrongful, concealing the cook’s employment, listing him as providing maintenance services.
She ordered residence staff to lie for her “so that this (wouldn’t) be found out by the treasury and the office manager,” according to her indictment.
Charges against her include “fraudulently obtain(ing) state funding for various expenses for the accused and her family that were not supposed to be financed in this manner.”
Last September, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit said he’d indict Sara Netanyahu and Ezra Saidoff, subject to a pre-indictment hearing.
Held in January, plea bargaining negotiations followed. Her indictment followed failure to reach agreement.
She refused to publicly admit wrongdoing and agree to reimburse the state for unlawful meal expenses.
Former Netanyahu spokesman Nir Hefetz turned state’s witness against him and Sara – providing evidence of misappropriation of public funds for personal use.
If found guilty as charged, she could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. A much more lenient punishment would be likely.