Israel investigating 'payment for jacuzzi' at Netanyahu home

Bibi in hot water over claims of $15,000 state payment for jacuzzi at Netanyahu home
3 min read
02 July, 2021
Former leader Netanyahu has slammed the story as 'a complete lie', although a police investigation into the installation of a hot tub worth NIS 50,000 ($15,000) at the expense of the state is ongoing.
Netanyahu is alleged to have abused his powers in his roles as prime minister and communications minister [Getty]

Israeli police are probing a state payment allegedly used to finance a jacuzzi in the residence of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu called the story "a complete lie", according to Channel 12, although a police investigation into the installation of a hot tub worth NIS 50,000 ($15,000) at the expense of the state is ongoing.

The installation was allegedly done under the pretence of a security upgrade for the property.

The family of Israel's longest serving prime minister is not suspected of wrongdoing at this point, though the findings may feed into an ongoing investigation on alleged misuse of public funds.

Netanyahu said in a statement that no jacuzzi was ever installed inside his property since it was bought 20 years ago.

"And of course, the state has not invested even a penny in what was not installed. This is a complete lie," the family said, according to the The Times of Israel.

In a Facebook post, the former prime minister, who was ousted last month by a single vote margin, accused the State Prosecutor's Office of cooking up the story and threatened to sue Channel 12 for libel.

Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, have been the subject of several probes in recent years on suspicion of misappropriating state funds. Sara Netanyahu was convicted after a plea bargain in which she confessed to "taking unfair advantage of a mistake" and illegally procuring catering services at their private residence.

In a separate case, the former leader was charged with accepting illicit gifts, taking bribes, and giving out favours in exchange for positive press coverage.

The trial will resume on July 5 with the continuation of the testimony of Ilan Yeshua, former CEO of the news portal Walla, who claimed Netanyahu and his aides behaved like "criminals" when intervening in the outlet's coverage.

Netanyahu is alleged to have abused his powers when he served as both premier and communications minister from 2014 to 2017, promoting the business interests of Walla and controlling shareholders in order to obtain positive coverage.

The proceedings were put on hold for three weeks in June to allow time to search Yeshua’s phone and pass the findings to the defence lawyers.

Netanyahu, who served in office for a total of 15 years, reportedly destroyed documents stored in safes before leaving office last month. Staff at the Prime Minister’s Office were ordered to shred the documents prior to Naftali Bennett taking position as the new premier, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

All documents, whether public or private, are supposed to be kept in the office's archives.

A Netanyahu spokesperson rejected the allegation as a "total lie" and claimed that "no such thing ever happened."