Plea deal confirmed for Israel PM's wife in delivery meals case

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Israeli prosecutors confirmed Wednesday a plea bargain has been reached with the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over accusations she used state funds to fraudulently pay for hundreds of meals.

Under the deal in the case that has received intense media coverage, Sara Netanyahu would plead guilty to a lesser charge of exploiting the mistake of another person as well as pay a fine and compensation.

A statement from Israeli prosecutors said Netanyahu would be fined 10,000 shekels ($2,800, 2,500 euros) and have to reimburse the state another 45,000 shekels.

The agreement must be approved by the court, with a June 16 hearing set. Unconfirmed reports of the deal had emerged in late May.

As part of the deal, Netanyahu admitted she illegally ordered meals at a cost of some 175,000 shekels, the statement said.

Netanyahu was initially charged in June 2018 with fraud and breach of trust for allegedly misusing state funds to pay for catered meals costing $100,000 by falsely declaring there were no cooks available at the prime minister's official residence.

According to the indictment, between 2010 and 2013, Netanyahu, her family and guests "fraudulently (received) from the state hundreds of prepared meals" ordered from a variety of Jerusalem businesses.

Netanyahu, 60, has been a high-profile presence at her husband's side throughout his long tenure in office.

She has also faced accusations of mistreating staff, and in 2016 a court awarded some $47,000 in damages to a former housekeeper who accused the couple of repeated workplace abuse.

Separately, Benjamin Netanyahu is facing possible indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the months ahead and is reportedly seeking legislation that would result in him being granted immunity.

He is up for re-election again in September 17 polls, the second to be held this year after Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition following an April vote.