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New Bribery Scandal Centers On Fraud Case Against Sara Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A former spokesman for Benjamin Netanyahu is accused of offering to make a judge attorney general if she agreed to close a case against the Israeli prime minister’s wife.

The suspected bribe was first reported Tuesday morning by reporter Ben Caspit of the Hebrew-language daily newspaper Maariv.

Caspit reported that Nir Hefetz, who served as media adviser to Netanyahu for three years starting in 2014, made the offer to Hila Gerstel, who has since retired from being a judge. Israel Police confirmed the suspected bribe without naming names. Gerstel has testified about the incident as a witness in another corruption case.

Gerstel said she turned down the offer and was “deeply shocked” by it, Maariv reported. It is not known if she turned to police at the time to tell them about it.

Attorney General Avichai Mandleblit told the Israeli media on Tuesday that he did not receive a similar offer before being tapped for the post in February 2016.

Sara Netanyahu is accused of using public funds for personal expenses, including hiring an electrician who was a member of the Likud party Central Committee to do work on the prime minister’s residence without offering a tender for the work and purchasing furniture that purportedly was bought for the official residence in Jerusalem and then moving it to the Netanyahus’ private residence in Caesarea.

Hefetz reportedly was arrested on Sunday in connection with Case 4000, a corruption case that involves Israel’s telecommunications giant Bezeq and the prime minister.

Mandleblit informed Sara Netanyahu in September that she would be indicted for fraud pending a hearing that has not yet taken place.



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