The city of Jerusalem released details about its employment of Sara Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, on Tuesday in compliance with a court order after a journalist sought the data under a freedom of information request.
The document showed that Sara Netanyahu began working for the city in December 2005. In September 2016 she switched from working half-time to one third.
She worked an average of 57.7 hours per month, though there were wide variations — in March 2016 she worked almost 100 hours, whereas in October she worked fewer than 29 hours.
Ben Caspit, a reporter for the Maariv daily, had sought details of her employment as an educational psychologist for the municipality.
Jerusalem District Court judge Arnon Garel ruled last month that the city must provide within 30 days details about the scope of Netanyahu’s work, the number of hours she works each month, any changes that were made in the definition of her position, the total number of hours she worked over the year before the information was requested, and any interruptions in her work schedule that lasted for more than 30 days.
A request for information about complaints against her became redundant after the Jerusalem Municipality clarified that it had not received any such complaints.
Caspit first asked for details about Netanyahu’s employment in December 2016, citing public interest. He had said her commitments as the prime minister’s wife could impact her job as a public servant.
Netanyahu and the municipality objected, claiming that revealing the details would be a security concern to the prime minister’s wife and an invasion of her privacy.
Netanyahu further claimed that Caspit was acting for ulterior motives, to badger her.
Garel reasoned that since both Sara Netanyahu and her husband have publicly said she is working as a psychologist, the public has the right to know some of the details of her work.
However, he refrained from ordering the city to detail how much Netanyahu was paid for her services or which educational institutions she worked at, saying that he had struck the balance between the public’s right to access relevant information and the need to protect her personal safety and privacy.
In his information suit, Caspit noted that, as the wife of the prime minister, Sara Netanyahu has other commitments that could interfere with her ability to conduct her work, which justifies public concern, and that as the recipient of a wage paid from taxes, the public has the right to know where the money is going and for what.
After a long police investigation, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced on September 10 that he intends to indict Sara Netanyahu for fraud for allegedly diverting a total of some NIS 360,000 ($102,000) in public funds for her own use.
A draft indictment to be served on Sara Netanyahu runs to 16 pages and details allegedly illegal spending of up to NIS 25,000 (some $7,000) per month by the prime minister’s wife on meals from top restaurants in Jerusalem.
The prime minister is also suspected in at least two separate cases.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.
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