Skip to main content

How Bibi's wife may be his downfall

Israeli police intend to investigate Sara Netanyahu over her spending and management of the prime minister's official residence and the couple's private household.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits with his wife Sara during the state funeral ceremony of Israel's former president Yitzhak Navon at the Mt. Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem November 8, 2015.  REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool - RTS612E
Read in 

The next sensational political story in Israel is not connected to coalition negotiations or new elections, though it could, ultimately, be a factor in speeding up elections. It is a story involving personal conduct in a sensitive, explosive familial situation that is now turning into a criminal investigation with the seeds for a big political scandal. This story has been unfolding under the media radar for several long months, and it is now beginning to leak to the outside world. An investigation is taking place of the “prime minister’s residences,” in other words, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s official Jerusalem residence and the Netanyahu private home in Caesarea. (The Netanyahus own an additional apartment in Jerusalem, but that is currently not under investigation.)

The initial details emerged from testimonies by Meni Naftali, the former caretaker of the prime minister’s residence, who is now waging a long, down-and-dirty legal struggle against the Netanyahu couple. After the testimonies, the state comptroller published a harsh report in February 2015 regarding the goings-on in these residences: irregularities in expenses, the shifting of family expenses to the state and numerous other problematic events. Many stories were disseminated in the media, some of them hair-raising. One example (among others) is that Sara Netanyahu imposed on her private driver the Sisyphean task of collecting thousands upon thousands of empty bottles used at their official residence; the first lady thus created for herself “a petty cash fund” to the tune of thousands of shekels for her own use.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.