search

A-G, police chief said to clash over Sara Netanyahu fraud notice

Mandelblit, Alsheich reportedly at loggerheads over police’s vague statement announcing conclusion of investigation

Raoul Wootliff is the producer and occasional host of the Times of Israel Daily Briefing podcast.

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Jerusalem on July 5, 2015. (Emil Salman/POOL)
Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in Jerusalem on July 5, 2015. (Emil Salman/POOL)

Israel’s attorney general and police commissioner are leveling accusations at each other over an apparent attempt to hide details of a police recommendation to bring graft charges against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara.

On Sunday, a police statement said that an investigation into the prime minister’s “residences” had been completed and its conclusions were handed over to the state prosecutor. In a highly unusual move, however, the message did not include the name of the person under investigation or whether the police would recommend an indictment.

Media outlets soon learned that investigators had recommended that Sara Netanyahu be charged with fraud.

According to the Haaretz daily, sources close to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit said Wednesday he had opposed the wording of the police announcement, demanding that it conform to the standard statement released at the end of police investigations — including Netanyahu’s name and the indictment recommendation.

Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich attends a committee meeting in the Knesset on February 9, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich attends a committee meeting in the Knesset on February 9, 2016 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yedioth Aharonoth, another daily, reported that sources close to Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich denied the claims and accused Mandelblit of holding up the announcement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara attend a ceremony for outstanding soldiers as part of Israel's 68th Independence Day celebrations, at the President's Residence in Jerusalem on May 12, 2016. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara attend a ceremony for outstanding soldiers as part of Israel’s 68th Independence Day celebrations, at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on May 12, 2016. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Mandelblit reportedly said he only held up the announcement because the version presented to him didn’t include the appropriate information.

Critics of the Netanyahus charged on Monday that the police statement effectively sought to soften the political blow of the recommendation.

The prime minister’s wife has been accused of improper behavior and misuse of state funds relating to the residence, including receiving goods under false pretenses, falsifying documents and breach of trust.

Sara Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

“The police statement did not include any recommendations to put Mrs. Netanyahu on trial. Contrary to the reports, Mrs. Netanyahu did not commit any offense,” a statement from spokespeople for the Netanyahus read. “The various claims being made by the media will turn out to be baseless, just like the other claims leveled against the Netanyahu family over the years.”

Two of the cases involve her using state money to order food for personal use, and a third case involves the use of public funds to pay for a caretaker for her elderly father.

Police handed over their findings to the Jerusalem District state prosecution on Sunday, saying there was sufficient evidence to indict Netanyahu, electrician Avi Fahima, and Ezra Saidoff, deputy director for operations at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Ezra Saidoff, deputy director of the Prime Minister'’s Office in Jerusalem on May 10, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Ezra Saidoff, deputy director of the Prime Minister’’s Office (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The police investigation was launched after a state comptroller last year found possible criminal wrongdoing in aspects of the Netanyahus’ spending following complaints by a former custodian at the Prime Minister’s Residence who successfully sued for damages after alleging abuse at the hands of Sara Netanyahu.

read more:
comments
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed