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Sara Netanyahu grilled by Israeli police over new fraud allegations

Sara Netanyahu was questioned over new suspicions of fraudulently misusing public funds. [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 December, 2018

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Israeli police recommended charging Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara for bribery and other offences over the weekend, the third such recommendation against them in recent months.

Israeli police questioned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's wife Sara on Friday, her lawyer said, with media saying it was over new suspicions of fraudulently misusing public funds.

Public radio said Sara Netanyahu arrived at the headquarters of the National Fraud Squad, near Tel Aviv, late in the morning.

There was no immediate confirmation from police, who have issued statements on previous interrogations of the Netanyahus on a raft of different corruption allegations.

But Sara Netanyahu's lawyer said late on Friday afternoon, after the latest round of questioning concluded, that the allegations were another illustration of the Netanyahus' "persecution" by Israeli law enforcement authorities and would amount to nothing.

"At the end of the investigation it will become evident that this was another case of fabrications and tales of the state witness Nir Hefetz, which are totally false," said Yossi Cohen, of the Netanyahu family's former spokesman.

"When the other cases crash, new lies are invented," he said.

"How much longer will the persecution of the Netanyahu family continue?" asked Cohen in a statement issued via the Netanyahu family's spokesman.

On Sunday, police recommended charging the prime minister and his wife for bribery and other offences.

It was the third such recommendation against them in recent months.

Netanyahu denied the accusations, but the cases against him have led to speculation that they could eventually force the long-serving prime minister to step down.

Sara Netanyahu went on trial in October for allegedly using state funds to fraudulently pay for hundreds of meals.

Haaretz said on Friday that the latest allegation against her relates to fraudulent presentation to a government watchdog of receipts for charitable donations.

It said that if the suspicions were verified, they would be added to evidence in her existing trial.

Police in February recommended indicting Netanyahu in two other corruption investigations.

The attorney-general must decide whether to file charges.

The prime minister has repeatedly called the allegations against him a plot by his political enemies to force him from office.

The recommendations in February involved separate cases of alleged bribery.

In one, allegations against Netanyahu include seeking a secret deal with the publisher of Israel's top-selling newspaper Yediot Aharonot to ensure positive coverage in return for pushing forward a law that would have limited the circulation of a rival.

The other case involves suspicions Netanyahu and his family received luxury gifts from wealthy individuals in exchange for financial or personal favours.

Netanyahu has been prime minister for a total of more than 12 years, from 1996 to 1999 and again since 2009.

Polls suggest he would still win if elections were to be held now, despite the many and varied accusations.

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