Netanyahu’s wife admits criminal wrongdoing in meals catering case

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives in the Magistrate’s Court in Jerusalem on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 17 June 2019

Netanyahu’s wife admits criminal wrongdoing in meals catering case

  • Sara Netanyahu was ordered to pay a fine and compensation
  • Netanyahu was originally charged in June 2018

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, appeared in court on Sunday to admit criminal wrongdoing over the misuse of state funds to order catered meals, in a plea bargain carrying no jail time.
Under the agreement, a fraud charge was reduced to a lesser offense and she will pay the state 45,000 shekels ($12,490) in reimbursement and a 10,000 shekel ($2,775) fine.
According to the original indictment, Sara Netanyahu, along with a government employee, fraudulently obtained from the state more than $100,000 for hundreds of meals supplied by restaurants, bypassing regulations that prohibit the practice if a cook is employed at home.
Smiling broadly, Netanyahu faced a phalanx of cameras in the courthouse before the session got under way.
At the hearing, a judge ratified the plea deal, convicting her of the criminal charge of intentionally exploiting another person’s mishandling of state money for her own benefit, after prosecutors dropped the more serious offense of fraud.
“Do you understand what you admitted to?” the judge asked Netanyahu, 60. “Yes, I do,” she replied.
Israel’s YNet website published a photograph of what it said was a note from her husband, who was not in the court, that was passed to her during the session. “We will get through this, too. Be strong!!,” it said.
While the deal lifts a legal cloud over Sara Netanyahu, it has no direct bearing on the prime minister’s own troubles — three corruption cases in which he has denied wrongdoing.
In February, Israel’s attorney general said he intended to file fraud and bribery charges against Benjamin Netanyahu, pending a pre-trial hearing.
That session is set for early October, two weeks after a Sept. 17 general election that follows a ballot in April in which Netanyahu declared victory but failed to form a government.
In explaining the plea agreement to the court, prosecutors cited Mrs.Netanyahu’s clean record, the public humiliation she has suffered as a result of the case and the time that has passed — up to nine years — since the crimes were committed.
The government employee charged along with Netanyahu also reached an agreement with the prosecution and was fined 10,000 shekels.
Sara Netanyahu has elicited a multitude of headlines in the past over what family spokesmen have decried as an undeserved reputation for imperiousness.
Three years ago, a labor court found she had insulted and raged at household staff, and it awarded about $40,000 to the former chief caretaker of the prime minister’s residence in a civil suit against the government over alleged mistreatment and unfulfilled promises of tenure.

US and all ‘enemy ships’ watched Iran warns, as UK seeks ‘safe shipping’ alliance

Updated 5 min 36 sec ago

US and all ‘enemy ships’ watched Iran warns, as UK seeks ‘safe shipping’ alliance

  • Iran says it observes all US ships in the Gulf region
  • Iran and the United States came to the brink of war last month

GENEVA/LONDON: Iran observes all US ships in the Gulf region and has an archive of images of their daily movements, the head of Iran’s navy, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, said on Tuesday, according to the Young Journalists Club news site.

“We observe all enemy ships, particularly America, point-by-point from their origin until the moment they enter the region,” Khanzadi said, noting that images were recorded using Iranian drones. “We have complete images and a large archive of the daily and moment-by-moment traffic of the coalition forces and America.”

Iran and the US came to the brink of war last month after the Islamic Republic shot down a US drone, nearly prompting a retaliatory attack which US President Donald Trump called off at the last minute

Meanwhile, the Swedish-based operator of the British-flagged tanker seized last week by Iran said on Tuesday it was still awaiting permission to visit the ship’s 23 crew members.

“We continue to focus our efforts on supporting the families of those affected in India, Russia, Latvia and the Philippines and will continue to offer full support until all 23 crew members are released and safely back with their families,” it said in a statement.

Stena Bulk added that all necessary notifications had been made for the Stena Impero’s transit of the Strait of Hormuz, which it said was carried out in full compliance with all international maritime regulations.

“We can confirm that we are not aware of, and nor is there any evidence of a collision involving the Stena Impero,” it said.

On Saturday, Iran said the tanker was seized because it had collided with a fishing boat.

On Tuesday, the UK approached EU nations to join its proposed European-led naval missions for safe shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, with France, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands all showing strong support for the possible mission.