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Ex-PM says there is no jacuzzi at family's Caesarea home

Police probing state’s payment for $15,000 jacuzzi at Netanyahu home – report

Netanyahus say story ‘a complete lie’; couple themselves not suspected of wrongdoing, Channel 12 says, though initial findings echo past pattern of abuse of public funds by family

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara address their supporters on the night of the Israeli elections, at Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara address their supporters on the night of the Israeli elections, at Likud party headquarters in Tel Aviv, on March 3, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Police have opened an investigation into suspicions that a jacuzzi was installed at the private Caesarea home of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu for NIS 50,000 ($15,000) at the expense of the state, Channel 12 reported Thursday.

The installation was allegedly done under the cover of a security upgrade for the property.

The report said the Netanyahus themselves are not suspected of wrongdoing at this point, though initial findings highlight a pattern flagged in the past of alleged misuse of public funds by the family.

Police took testimony from comptrollers in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit was looped into lengthy deliberations on the matter, before a decision was made to open the probe in the National Fraud Investigation Unit.

The Netanyahu family flatly denied the report, saying in a statement that since they bought the home 20 years ago, no jacuzzi has ever been installed inside.

“And of course the state has not invested even a penny in what was not installed. This is a complete lie,” the family said.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s private residence in Caesarea. (Screen capture: Channel 10)

The opposition leader issued a subsequent Facebook post speculating that the State Prosecutor’s Office had cooked up the story. He also threatened to sue Channel 12 and its reporter Guy Peleg for libel.

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, have been the subject of several probes over the years on suspicion of illicitly using state funds for their own needs.

In 2019, Sara Netanyahau was convicted in a plea bargain that saw her confess to “taking unfair advantage of a mistake” and illegally procuring catering services at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Her case was separate from her husband’s legal woes, in which the former prime minister is charged with accepting illicit gifts, taking bribes, and attempting to arrange favors for media barons in exchange for positive press coverage.

Sara Netanyahu was a suspect in one of those cases, but prosecutors did not ultimately recommend she face charges.

Benjamin Netanyahu denies wrongdoing and claims the indictments are part of an effort by political rivals, the media, police and prosecutors to curb his power.

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