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Netanyahu's wife admits misusing state money for luxury meals

The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted to misusing state funds to pay for luxury restaurant meals, despite employing a full-time chef at home.

Prosecutors agreed on Sunday to a plea deal with Sara Netanyahu, which orders her to pay 45,000 shekels (£10,000) to reimburse the state’s costs, and a further 10,000 shekels (£2,200) fine.

The 60-year-old was indicted last year on charges of fraud and breach of trust after spending an alleged £79,000 of state funds on catered food, but this was later reduced to a lesser charge.

She was eventually convicted in a Jerusalem court on Sunday for “intentionally exploiting the mistake of someone else” for her benefit.

A government employee has also been fined 10,000 shekels (£2,200).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and wife Sara cast their ballot
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The Netanyahus have been central to a number of scandals, involving the use of funds and treatment of staff

This is not the first time scandal has hit the Netanyahus’ household.

In 2016, a court awarded the prime minister’s former caretaker 170,000 shekels (£37,000) in damages after he reported mistreatment and abuse from the couple.

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Another case is currently under way in which a former housekeeper is suing Mrs Netanyahu for 225,000 shekels (£50,000), citing claims of mistreatment and harassment.

Yossi Cohen, the lawyer representing Mrs Netanyahu, said his client has “been put through hell” following a year-long “witch hunt” against her public standing.

He added: “I hope that indeed this is the end of the story.”

Meanwhile, Mr Netanyahu called his wife a “true hero”, who had been treated like a “punching bag”.

But the 69-year-old is currently in the midst of his own scandal after Israel’s attorney general said in February that he planned to file charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust against the prime minister.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for October, just weeks after the upcoming general election.

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