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Netanyahu’s Wife Interrogated over Abuse of Public Funds | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara in 2014. (AP)

The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was interrogated on Wednesday on suspicion that she used public money for personal uses, local media said.

Sara Netanyahu was questioned by the police for two hours over whether she diverted the public funds towards housekeeping expenses at official and private residences, reported Israeli public radio.

The interrogation came as a new threat loomed over the premier in his own long-running battle with corruption suspicions, as his former chief of staff reportedly considered an offer to turn state’s evidence.

The interrogation was held at the National Fraud Squad headquarters near Tel Aviv

As during previous rounds of questioning of both the premier and his wife, police issued no statement on Sara Netanyahu’s questioning.

But it was her husband’s tribulations that grabbed the front pages of all of Israel’s major dailies — including the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom on Wednesday.

They reported that justice officials were nearing a deal with his former chief of staff, Ari Harow, in which he would give evidence against his former boss in exchange for immunity from prosecution for his own acts.

Harow has been under investigation for more than two years on suspicion of bribery, breach of trust, conflict of interest and fraud, Israel’s top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported.

Left-leaning daily Haaretz said Harow has been giving investigators information on two of the ongoing investigations into Netanyahu.

One is based on suspicions that the premier unlawfully received gifts from wealthy supporters, including Australian billionaire James Packer and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Also being probed is a suspicion that Netanyahu sought a secret deal with the publisher of Yediot Aharonot.

The proposed deal, which is not believed to have been finalized, would have seen Netanyahu receive positive coverage in return for him helping scale down the operations of Israel Hayom, Yediot’s main competitor.

The investigations have stirred Israeli politics and led to speculation over whether Netanyahu will eventually be forced to step down.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told news site Ynet on Wednesday that Netanyahu is not legally obliged to quit if indicted.

“At the moment there is no charge against him and there is no recommendation to charge him,” she said.

“The ones to take that decision are the attorney general and the state prosecutor,” she added.

“For now, let the prime minister get on with his job.”