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Netanyahu’s wife to testify as PM’s residence probe continues

Haaretz previously reported that a state financial officer had omitted several important expenses from the prime minister’s residence accounts

Published: Updated:

As the dust of the election settles, Israeli police are set to continue their probe into alleged wrongdoing in the running of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence, and will hear testimony from the premier’s wife, Israeli liberal daily Haaretz reported on Saturday.

In addition to quizzing Sara Netanyahu, the national police Lahav 433 unit – thought of by some as the “Israeli FBI” - will also speak to former and present staff members of the residence of the couple’s behavior.

Police have been gathering information from Meni Naftali, the former chief caretaker of the premier’s house, for several weeks, with a number of other affidavits submitted from other workers.

Haaretz previously reported that a state financial officer had omitted several important expenses from the prime minister’s residence accounts, such as work assignments. One case concerned an election whose role was to only consist of providing emergency services to Netanyahu’s residence, but was instead regularly called in and worked on weekends.

Lahav 433 are also continuing to investigate corruption allegations against senior figures into the Yisrael Beiteinu party, which is led by current foreign affairs minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The renewed investigation comes soon after Netanyahu’s unexpected win this week, adding 12 new seats to the Likud party in the Knesset and in the process securing himself another term.

As Netanyahu looks set to lead the country for another 4 years, the U.S., long a key ally of Israel in the region, recently raised the prospect of lifting vital diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations.

“Steps that the United States has taken at the United Nations had been predicated on this idea that the two-state solution is the best outcome,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

“Now our ally in these talks has said that they are no longer committed to that solution. That means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward,” he added.

But Netanyahu appeared on Thursday to backtrack on his campaign promise, saying in a television interview that he remains committed to a Palestinian statehood - if conditions in the region improve - and to the two-state vision first spelled out in a landmark 2009 speech at Israel's Bar Ilan University.