Hadashot news on Saturday aired the contents of a letter allegedly written by an employee at the Prime Minister’s official residence which associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara told the TV station refute the allegations against her. The letter was written by a staffer at the residence who, the report said, is said by the state to have been a cook, but who was evidently so unqualified for such a role that she once served the family lasagna with glass in it.
On Thursday, Sara Netanyahu was indicted along with Ezra Saidoff, a former deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, for fraud and breach of trust. The two are accused of fraudulently charging some NIS 359,000 ($100,000) in gourmet meals at the state’s expense between 2010 and 2013, violating regulations that ban the ordering of prepared food when a chef is already employed at the official residence.
Hadashot news reported that the letter was written by an employee in the household who, according to the Netanyahus, performed a number of tasks at the residence. These included preparing and serving meals, even though the worker was not a trained cook or chef.
In the handwritten letter addressed to Mrs. Netanyahu shown in the TV report, the employee apologized for an incident in which lasagna with bits of glass from a broken jar of tomato sauce was allegedly served. The TV report said the staffer had picked up the smashed jar from the floor, and served some of the spilled sauce which she thought was glass-free.
The unidentified employee apologizes profusely for the incident, asking forgiveness and taking responsibility for the “terrible mistake.” She writes: “There was a lot of work pressure… I have no idea how the pieces of glass got into the sauce. The jar [containing the sauce] was in a bag [and apparently fell], and when I picked it up, I saw it was a little broken… but I only used the clean part for the sauce.”
She adds: “I wouldn’t dream of hurting you… I really feel that you are my family… A thousand apologies.”
The letter is apparently meant to strengthen Mrs Netanyahu’s claim — as she testified to police — that the prime minister’s official Jerusalem residence did not always have competent chefs or cooks available, and that there was therefore a need to purchase meals from restaurants.
The allegations against Netanyahu are based on the claim that the residence did have in-house cooks available — working in shifts — and that Sara Netanyahu falsely claimed no such cooks were on hand in order to justify purchasing gourmet food to be brought into the residence.
On Friday, the same TV station revealed details from the testimony of a former media adviser to the Netanyahu family on Sara Netanyahu’s alleged misappropriation of public funds at the family’s residences.
Nir Hefetz, who in March became a state’s witness against the prime minister, gave full details on his knowledge of the case to police as part of his deal.
Hefetz said he was often privy to Sara Netanyahu’s arguments with the Prime Minister’s Office’s legal counsel and accountant, as they pushed back on her recurring efforts to have the state cover the homes’ expenses.
“Sarah sometimes used me too in order to [have me] convince them to approve expenses,” he reportedly said. “I’m talking about dozens of cases… It was a Sisyphean struggle.”
One detail — if true — appeared particularly petty, with the premier’s wife allegedly demanding “that the state pay NIS 10 ($2.80) for the ‘Big Brother’ [24/7 live feed] channel” in son Yair’s room at the family’s private home in Caesarea.
“She wanted to replace all the windows at the Caesarea home, because someone might shoot the prime minister,” Hefetz said. “She wanted to replace all the plaster at the villa, asserting that a piece of plaster could fall on the prime minister’s head.
“There are many more examples, there was a wealth of incidents that exhausted the system,” Hefetz said, according to Hadashot.
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