Nir Hefetz, who was the Netanyahu family’s most trusted spokesman until he turned state’s witness in their corruption investigations, told police that Sara Netanyahu vetoed political appointments and that he was told “she is the prime minister,” Channel 12 news reported Friday.
Hefetz is said to have told police that then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman intended to appoint Alon Pinkas as Israel’s ambassador to the UN and to place Shai Bezeq in a senior consular post about 10 years ago.
According to the report, Hefetz said he received a phone call from Zvi Hauser, who said that the prime minister called him to scold him over the fact that Pinkas and Bezeq’s possible nominations were on the government’s agenda without his approval.
Hauser served as the government’s cabinet secretary from 2009-2013 and also served as deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Hefetz allegedly told police that Hauser said he heard Sara give her husband instructions on the matter.
Hauser reportedly then told Hefetz: “She is the prime minister.”
As a result, Pinkas and Bezek’s nominations were said to have been removed from the agenda. The report stressed that Hefetz’s testimony on the matter was not directly linked to a criminal investigation, but was a depiction of the decision-making process.
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office responded to the report: “Another cycle of lies in the State of Israel from Nir Hefetz and Hauser, a Blue and White MK, in order to help the leftist candidate Benny Gantz to be elected prime minister. Only Prime Minister Netanyahu is the one who decides on appointments based on the candidates’ experience and qualifications.”
Earlier this year, it was reported that Hefetz painstakingly recorded the Netanyahus’ behavior in almost daily, real-time entries in diaries he kept for several years while in their employ.
Those diaries became a key part of the evidence in corruption cases against both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, and may have contributed to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to indict her for misuse of public funds.
Last month Sara Netanyahu was convicted of taking unfair advantage of a mistake, after earlier confessing to the offense as part of a plea deal signed in a case involving allegations of illegally procured catering services at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
The agreement saw Sara Netanyahu escape a conviction of aggravated fraud, but confess to the lesser charge. She was ordered to pay NIS 55,000 ($15,210) — NIS 10,000 as a fine, and the rest as restitution.
Hefetz last year became a state witness in the Bezeq graft investigation after he was arrested and questioned under caution by police over his involvement in the alleged affair. Pending a hearing, Benjamin Netanyahu faces fraud and breach of trust charges in three graft cases, including bribery in one of them.
Earlier on Friday, a lawmaker from the Yisrael Beytenu party also said that Sara Netanyahu holds the power in Jerusalem.
“I think she has more power than any prime minister who has served here for the last 10 years,” Eli Avidar said. “If Sara Netanyahu was appointed prime minister, [Hamas leader] Ismail Haniyeh would not receive $25 million in suitcases every month, but instead 25 million ticks.”
The Likud party responded to Avidar’s words with a statement, saying: “Liberman is sending his men to lash out wildly against the prime minister’s wife. That’s what happens when there is nothing to offer but empty words and zero actions — rampaging and cursing.”