Ne­tanyahu’s wife Sara grilled on fresh fraud al­le­ga­tion

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - REGION -

OC­CU­PIED JERUSALEM: Po­lice ques­tioned Is­raeli Prime Minister Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s wife Sara Fri­day, her lawyer said, with me­dia say­ing it was over new sus­pi­cions of fraud­u­lently mis­us­ing pub­lic funds.

Pub­lic ra­dio said that Sara Ne­tanyahu ar­rived at the head­quar­ters of the Na­tional Fraud Squad, near Tel Aviv, late in the morn­ing.

There was no im­me­di­ate con­fir­ma­tion from po­lice, who have is­sued state­ments on pre­vi­ous in­ter­ro­ga­tions of the Ne­tanyahus on a raft of dif­fer­ent graft al­le­ga­tions.

But Sara Ne­tanyahu’s lawyer said late Fri­day af­ter­noon, af­ter the last round of ques­tion­ing was over, that the sus­pi­cious, which would amount to noth­ing, were an­other il­lus­tra­tion of the Ne­tanyahus’ “per­se­cu­tion” by Is­raeli law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties.

“At the end of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion it will be­come ev­i­dent that this was an­other case of fab­ri­ca­tions and tales of the state wit­ness Nir He­fetz, which are to­tally false,” Yossi Co­hen said of the Ne­tanyahu fam­ily’s for­mer spokesman.

“When the other cases crash, new lies are in­vented,” he said.

“How much longer will the per­se­cu­tion of the Ne­tanyahu fam­ily con­tinue,” Co­hen asked in a state­ment is­sued via the Ne­tanyahu fam­ily’s spokesman.

Sun­day, po­lice rec­om­mended charg­ing the premier and his wife for bribery and other of­fences. It was the third such rec­om­men­da­tion against them in re­cent months.

Ne­tanyahu de­nied the ac­cu­sa­tions, but the cases against him have led to spec­u­la­tion that they could even­tu­ally force the long-serv­ing prime minister to step down.

Sara Ne­tanyahu went on trial in Oc­to­ber for al­legedly us­ing state funds to fraud­u­lently pay for hun­dreds of meals.

Haaretz daily said Fri­day that the lat­est al­le­ga­tion against her re­lates to fraud­u­lent pre­sen­ta­tion to a gov­ern­ment watch­dog of re­ceipts for char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions.

It said that if the sus­pi­cions are ver­i­fied, they would be added to ev­i­dence in her ex­ist­ing trial.

The sit­u­a­tion has led to spec­u­la­tion it could force Ne­tanyahu to step down

Po­lice in Fe­bru­ary rec­om­mended in­dict­ing Ne­tanyahu in two other cor­rup­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

The at­tor­ney gen­eral must de­cide whether to file charges.

The premier has re­peat­edly called the al­le­ga­tions against him a plot by his po­lit­i­cal en­e­mies to force him from of­fice.

The rec­om­men­da­tions in Fe­bru­ary in­volved sep­a­rate cases of al­leged bribery.

In one, al­le­ga­tions against Ne­tanyahu in­clude seek­ing a se­cret deal with the pub­lisher of Is­rael’s top-sell­ing news­pa­per Ye­diot Aharonot to en­sure pos­i­tive cov­er­age in re­turn for push­ing for­ward a law that would have lim­ited the cir­cu­la­tion of a ri­val.

The other case in­volves sus­pi­cions the premier and his fam­ily re­ceived lux­ury gifts from wealthy in­di­vid­u­als in ex­change for fi­nan­cial or per­sonal fa­vors.

Ne­tanyahu has been prime minister for a to­tal of more than 12 years, from 1996 to 1999 and again since 2009.

Polls sug­gest he would still win if elec­tions were to be held now de­spite the ac­cu­sa­tions. –

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