Netanyahu prosecutor to be quizzed by inspectors for alleged building violations

Netanyahu prosecutor to be quizzed by inspectors for alleged building violations

Liat Ben-Ari, lead attorney in cases against PM, to be questioned by municipality over claims home was subdivided without permit; previously said it was her husband’s investment

Liat Ben Ari is seen in the Jerusalem District Court, July 19, 2020. (Marc Israel/Pool Photo via AP)
Liat Ben Ari is seen in the Jerusalem District Court, July 19, 2020. (Marc Israel/Pool Photo via AP)

Deputy State Attorney for Financial Enforcement Liat Ben-Ari, the lead prosecutor in the corruption cases against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is reportedly to be questioned by municipal inspectors, along with her husband, over allegations they violated the law by splitting a home into two separate apartments without a permit, Hebrew-language media reported Wednesday.

According to Channel 13 news, Justice Ministry officials said Ben-Ari and her husband had not yet received a summons for the reported hearing next month.

In a statement issued via the ministry last month, Ben-Ari said that the property was not her family’s personal residence, but had been purchased by a joint purchase group, in which her husband was a member.

“Ben-Ari has no involvement in the investments and business of her husband, who is an ordinary private citizen,” the statement read.

Liat Ben-Ari arrives at District Court in Jerusalem, May 24, 2020 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The reported summons came after the pro-Netanyahu daily Israel Hayom reported that an inspector for the Rosh Ha’ayin municipality had found that there was a separate entrance to the basement of the building, which was created without first obtaining a permit, effectively creating two units out of one.

According to the Globes financial newspaper, the law allows for such properties to be divided and the Rosh Ha’ayin municipality told the newspaper that they had received around 200 requests to carry out similar changes in recent years.

The report said that after the inspector’s visit, the couple submitted a request for the construction to be retrospectively approved, which the municipality said was expected to be accepted.

Last month, Public Security Minister Amir Ohana, a close ally of the prime minister, called on Ben-Ari to resign over the allegations.

Ohana, who had previously quarreled with Ben-Ari during his tenure as justice minister, said that if the allegations prove to be true then “she should not continue to serve” at the ministry.

The prime minister’s defenders have harshly criticized Ben-Ari and other members of the law enforcement community whom they accuse, without evidence, of attempting to unseat Netanyahu for political reasons.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a face mask in line with public health restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, stands inside the court room as his corruption trial opens at the Jerusalem District Court, May 24, 2020 (Ronen Zvulun/ Pool Photo via AP)

Netanyahu’s trial on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust opened in May in the Jerusalem District Court. He denies any wrongdoing and has railed against the courts, prosecution and media for what he terms a “witchhunt.”

Security has been significantly increased around Ben-Ari after threats against her escalated, a report said earlier this month.

The development came days after a man was indicted on charges of threatening Ben-Ari’s underage son, and after several weeks of protests outside her home.

Channel 13 reported that police had received intelligence that the danger had become more serious, leading to the decision to assign her security guards around the clock. Ben-Ari will also have unspecified technologies installed at her home, the report said.

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