Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is convening a meeting Sunday evening in his office to discuss the conduct of affairs in the prime minister’s residences, including the alleged appropriating of returned bottle deposits by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, between 2009-2013.
At the meeting, to be attended by senior officials of his office and the state prosecution, there will be an effort to collate the information that has reached the Justice Ministry from the State Comptroller’s Office at various times and through means. At the end of the meeting there is expected to be an urgent request issued to State Comptroller Joseph Shapira to hand over all the audits he has done of the prime minister’s residences without delay.
Among those expected at the meeting are State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, deputy attorneys general Dina Zilber and Ron Nazri, deputy state prosecutor for criminal cases Eli Abarbanel and Jerusalem District Attorney for criminal cases Nurit Litman. The head of the Israel Police Investigations and Intelligence Branch, Maj. Gen. Meni Yitzhaki, may also be invited. The police believe the branch may soon be tasked with conducting either an initial inquiry or a criminal investigation in the case.
Those present will be asked to make order of information about irregularities and possible criminal behavior at the prime minister’s domiciles that comes from at least three sources. The first is the State Comptroller’s Report of 2013, which deals with the make-up expenses the interface between the Prime Minister’s Office legal adviser, Shulamit Barnea-Farago, and senior officials in the Justice Ministry.
The second is the claims being made by the Netanyahus’ former chief housekeeper Meni Naftali about the behavior of Sara Netanyahu and Prime Minister’s Office deputy director-general Ezra Saidoff, claims that were checked in another audit and are partially supported by facts published recently, including the Netanyahu’s return of $1,000 to the treasury (a fact that was known to the AG’s Office, but whose context was to be ascertained after the state comptroller finished his report).
The third is suspicions of criminal violations in the realms of integrity and proper administration, which the prosecution is being asked to examine after they came up in an affidavit Naftali submitted during his civil suit against the state, Netanyahu, and Saidoff – a suit in which the Jerusalem District Attorney’s office is representing the defendants.
If Yitzhaki is indeed invited to the meeting, what will also likely be discussed is the risk of delaying a criminal probe, which might result in increasing pressure on the relevant witnesses to change their stories.
The Justice Ministry this morning once again denied that any of the material relating to the state comptroller’s audit of the prime minister’s residences – the current audit, not the one from 2013 – had been given to the attorney general.
The state comptroller’s spokesman had said on Saturday that, ”In August 2014, a nearly completed version of the report on the expenses of the prime minister’s residences had been sent to both the prime minister and the attorney general. As a result, the attorney general knows, since then, what the State Comptroller’s Office checked regarding this issue. In November the State Comptroller’s Office legal adviser sent a long and detailed letter regarding all the topics in the report."