Daily Israel Report

Sarah Netanyahu Asks Press to Stop Hounding Her

State Comptroller will look into a Channel 10 investigation about supposed high spending on the Netanyahus' trips abroad.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/31/2011, 6:08 PM / Last Update: 3/31/2011, 6:17 PM

Flash 90

Sarah, wife of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, granted a rare interview to Channel 2 television in which she asks the press to stop trying to hurt her husband through allegations against her. The interview will be aired Thursday evening.

Netanyahu broke her long silence after State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss announced he would hold an inquiry into allegations raised by Channel 10. The channel claimed that in the period between Binyamin Netanyahu's first and second terms as prime minister, he and his wife made dozens of trips abroad, and enjoyed luxurious accommodations. These accommodations were paid for by private businessmen who - allegedly - could become interested parties in decisions made by Netanyahu if he were to be re-elected as prime minister.  
 
This is not the first time that the media has made similar assaults on Binyamin and Sarah Netanyahu. In the past, the media has accused Sarah of being cruel to her domestic cleaning staff, and claimed that the Netanyahus received extravagant accommodations when on a public diplomacy tour for Israel during the Second Lebanon War.
 
"I decided to talk because I feel that there is no energy left for another assault," she said. "Again I stand before the public as a target. Again, they hurt the prime minister through me. This is evil gossip, which becomes a sort of permanent ritual of hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness. Enough. Enough already. This has to stop!"
 
Netanyahu said that if one wants to investigate politicians' trips abroad, all politicians in Israel should be investigated, because the practice is common and legal. She emphasized that she received authorization for all of her travels abroad.
 
The Channel 10 story and Lindenstrauss' involvement have also led to a political scuffle between Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and House Control Committee Chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima). The committee headed by Hasson voted Wednesday to give the Comptroller increased authority in the investigation against the prime minister. 
 
Rivlin said that Hasson had carried out a last-minute trick, holding a quick surprise vote just as the Knesset was winding up its final session for the spring term. Hasson denied any trickery.
 
Cooperation between the media and the Comptroller is a favored way of bringing down politicians. The Comptroller became the nemesis of former prime minister Ehud Olmert when he began investigating him, following some newspaper exposes, and it was a Comptroller report on Major General Yoav Galant that prevented him from being appointed Chief of Staff. That investigation was prompted by an expose on Maariv.
 
Lindenstrauss's detractors accuse him of being a publicity-seeker.