Netanyahus to be probed for home spending after election

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) – Israel’s attorney general recommended opening a preliminary probe after the elections into allegations of over spending at the homes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced his recommendation for the procedure during a meeting Thursday of justice ministry officials, Army Radio reported. An internal probe by the state attorney’s office will determine whether the allegations merit a criminal police investigation.

Weinstein is postponing the probe because Netanyahu is not directly suspected of foul play. The suspicious behavior discussed in the report pertain to the conduct of Sara Netanyahu and Ezra Seidoff, the deputy director of the finance department at the Prime Minister’s Office, according to the report.

The issue has come under scrutiny following a report by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira alleging excessive spending of public money for personal expenses at the Netanyahus’ residences.

The news follows a report that prosecutors offered immunity to a former caretaker at the prime minister’s residence for providing incriminating evidence against the couple.

The state comptroller’s report asserted that expenditures at the prime minister’s official residence “do not conform to standards of reason, proportionality, economical management and efficiency.” From 2009 to 2012, spending on food at the residence more than doubled to a total of roughly $110,000.

For two years, the Netanyahus ordered in meals while employing a cook. They also paid roughly $18,000 a month on cleaning expenses.

In addition, Sara Netanyahu is accused of pocketing funds received from recycling state-funded beverage bottles.

The issue featured prominently in opposition parties’ election campaigns ahead of the March 17 vote.