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Netanyahu accused of pocketing dozens of gifts he received as PM — report

Prime Minister’s Office said to tell opposition leader to return unaccounted-for items, including presents from Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a conference in Jerusalem on August 1, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a conference in Jerusalem on August 1, 2021. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The Prime Minister’s Office has requested that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu return a series of gifts he received while he was prime minister, a report said Sunday.

According to the Maariv newspaper, 42 gifts given to Netanyahu during his 12-year term as premier — which rightfully belong to the State of Israel — have yet to be returned.

The Netanyahu family moved out of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on July 10, almost a month after Naftali Bennett succeeded him.

The legal adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office, Shlomit Barnea, reportedly wrote a letter to Netanyahu earlier this month demanding that the dozens of items be returned. According to Maariv, an aide to Netanyahu has claimed that many of the items cannot be located.

Discounting those gifts purported to be lost, Barnea reportedly listed 27 gifts in her letter that still need to be returned, including a glass box decorated with gold leaves from then-US president Barack Obama when Netanyahu visited the White House; a copy of the Bible with the first commentary by Rashi, given by Russian President Vladimir Putin; and a framed copy of the documents then-US president Donald Trump signed ordering the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem, delivered to Netanyahu by then-vice president Mike Pence.

“With the end of term as prime minister you were supposed to return all of the gifts you received during your term… in the condition they were given, with the exception of reasonable wear and tear due to the passage of time,” Barnea wrote in the letter, according to Maariv.

Netanyahu is standing trial in three corruption cases, one of which involves allegedly receiving expensive illicit gifts from wealthy benefactors.

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