Sights set on Sara, Yair Netanyahu

Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

AFTER months of speculation, Israel’s Attorney-General has said he is considering indicting Sara Netanyahu, and outlined the suspicions against her.

The Prime Minister’s wife misused public money as “hundreds of meals from restaurants and funerals were received fraudulently from the state at a value of 359,000 shekels,” Israel’s Justice Ministry claimed in a statement, referring to an allegedly improper spend of $125,000 between 2010 and 2013.

The sums may be relatively small in terms of state budgets, but the money and the Netanyahu family’s mentality touch a raw nerve of Israelis, say commentators.

“I think there is a feeling that they regard themselves as presidents or, some people even say, a monarchy, and Israelis are very egalitarian and sensitive to the use of public funds,” Hebrew University political scientist Itzhak Galnoor told The AJN.

Mrs Netanyahu’s conduct has been under public scrutiny for years, and has brought her legal difficulties, such as a labour case against her last year, which saw a former household employee awarded $60,000 in damages.

But despite the rumours and accusations Sara Netanyahu – like her husband Benjamin – has always proved bulletproof to serious legal proceedings.

Now Avichai Mandelblit, the Prime Minister’s hand-picked choice for Attorney-General, and his former cabinet secretary, has put all the pieces in place for a Sara Netanyahu indictment for fraud and breach of trust.

The spotlight on the family is only intensifying, with the Netanyahus’ son Yair sparking major controversy.

Mandelblit’s office claimed that she worked closely with an employee to create the “false impression” that there was no cook at the Prime Minister’s residence, and order expensive food from outside suppliers which should have been prepared in-house.

On the plus-side for Mrs Netanyahu, several other investigations against her have been closed.

An indictment against Mrs Netanyahu could be the first of several legal strikes against her family, as the PM himself is facing intensifying probes.

A key suspect in one of the probes, film producer Arnon Milchan, is believed to have just been questioned in London over whether he bribed the PM.

If Milchan’s testimony supports police suspicions, it could advance a case into gifts that the PM received from wealthy businessmen.

An investigation into whether the PM tried to cut an inappropriate deal with a newspaper publisher for more favourable coverage is also steaming ahead.

The Netanyahus have dismissed the current allegations against them, and a few hours before the Attorney-General’s announcement the PM described the claims against his wife as “absurd”.

She is “brave and honest,” and Netanyahu asked rhetorically: “When will this obsessive preoccupation with the Netanyahu family end?”

Yet the spotlight on the family is only intensifying, with the Netanyahus’ son Yair sparking major controversy – again – with a social media post.

This time, he cut closer to the bone than in his past posts by sharing a picture crammed with anti-Semitic imagery.

Titled “the food chain” it conjures a conspiracy to explain the Netanyahus’ legal woes, with a series of figures getting the next in the chain to do their bidding by dangling something to tempt them from a fishing rod.

In the picture American-Jewish billionaire George Soros offers the world to a figure that looks like Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character expropriated by the alt-right.

The reptile figure dangles an occult symbol in front of a large-nosed Jewish character, who controls former Labour prime minister Ehud Barak with money.

The “food chain” continues with two Netanyahu adversaries.

Yair Netanyahu deleted the image from his Facebook account on Sunday, but only after a storm of criticism, including from opposition leader Isaac Herzog who said that every Jew should feel “revulsion” over the image.

Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke and those behind the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, purported to embrace Yair Netanyahu as one of their own.

“Welcome to the club, Yair – absolutely amazing, wow, just wow,” Duke tweeted on Sunday.