Netanyahu dines at non-kosher restaurant in London over Shabbat

Opposition slams PM for ‘hypocrisy’ after clip shows him and his wife at Gordon Ramsay eatery, as his coalition advances law to let hospitals ban hametz on Passover

In a screenshot of social media video, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara are seen dining at Gordon Ramsey’s River Restaurant in London, March 24, 2023. (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
In a screenshot of social media video, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara are seen dining at Gordon Ramsey’s River Restaurant in London, March 24, 2023. (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara were filmed dining at a non-kosher restaurant in London over Shabbat, leading to criticism from opposition figures.

In a short clip filmed Friday night, the couple can be seen at Gordon Ramsay’s River Restaurant at the Savoy Hotel in the British capital, where they are staying.

A piece of lobster can be seen on the plate of the diner who filmed the video.

“There is no limit to Netanyahu’s hypocrisy: He eats in a non-kosher restaurant and then runs home to vote for the hametz law,” opposition leader Yair Lapid wrote on Twitter.

Lapid was referring to a controversial bill that would allow hospital directors to ban leavened bread from their institutions during Passover. The proposal, pushed by Netanyahu’s ultra-Orthodox allies, would bypass a 2021 High Court ruling that hospitals may not legally prohibit people from bringing in hametz during the weeklong Jewish holiday.

“The country is burning and the ‘royal’ couple eats at a Michelin restaurant on all of our dime,” Yisrael Beytenu MK Yulia Malinovsky tweeted. The restaurant is listed in the Michelin Guide, but does not have a star.

Also noting the hametz bill, Malinovsky accused Netanyahu of “eating traif meat and seafood and afterward they will tell us that the government is restoring Judaism to the people. There is no limit to the hypocrisy!” It was not clear what the premier and his wife ate.

Meanwhile, protesters lined the streets outside the Savoy Hotel as Netanyahu readied to depart the UK and return to Israel.

Earlier, around 20 protesters gathered outside the hotel, ahead of planned mass protests in Israel against the government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system.

“The whole world knows that Bibi is a criminal,” the protesters chanted, using Netanyahu’s nickname.

Netanyahu’s visit to Britain has been largely overshadowed by domestic politics, with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stressing the importance of Israel “upholding democratic values” in their low-profile meeting on Friday, during which hundreds of Israeli and Jewish protesters chanted against the coalition’s far-reaching plans to take political control over much of the judiciary.

While the Israeli readout of the meeting did not mention anything about the judicial overhaul that is dominating headlines about Israel around the world, the British readout noted that Sunak stressed to Netanyahu “the importance of upholding the democratic values that underpin our relationship, including in the proposed judicial reforms in Israel.”

The statement from 10 Downing Street also stressed “international concern at growing tensions in the West Bank,” and encouraged “all efforts to de-escalate, particularly ahead of the upcoming religious holidays.”

The meeting with Sunak appeared to be toned down and in an unusual move, there was no public address of any kind from the two leaders.

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at 10 Downing Street in London, March 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Sunak had faced pressure in recent days to publicly comment on Israel’s contentious judicial shakeup, leading to speculation that he chose to forgo any public comments with Netanyahu in order to avoid taking a stance.

Netanyahu’s office said Saturday night that the premier also met Friday with British Home Secretary Suella Braverman, talking about Iran, terrorism and expanding security cooperation to other areas, including cyber defense. Braverman tweeted that they discussed “our shared security interests” and the countries’ “partnership to keep people safe.”

During Netanyahu’s visit to Berlin last week, he and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz publicly sparred during a press conference over the government’s continued push of legislation that will greatly expand political control over Israel’s courts.

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