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Tags: Israel | israel | prime minister | netanyahu | gifts

Netanyahu Accused of Not Returning State Gifts

benjamn netanyahu sits in knesset
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a special session to vote on a new government at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 13, 2021. (EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 30 August 2021 08:03 AM

Former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of not returning state gifts received from foreign leaders, including former President Donald Trump, according to a newspaper report.

Columnist Ben Caspit, writing Sunday in Hebrew-language Maariv, said Netanyahu had not returned gifts that were allowed to be displayed at the prime minister's office or official residence during his time in office.

Netanyahu, now opposition leader, was supposed to return the items when his term ended, The Jerusalem Post reported.

A Netanyahu spokesman said all gifts were returned, and the gifts on the list were not in the former prime minister's possession.

The spokesperson said the report was "an attempt to create a fictitious episode to distract the public from the [$6.6 million] spent on renovating the private residences of [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and [Alternate Prime Minister Yair] Lapid."

The gifts that Netanyahu allegedly had not returned included:

  • A memento of the declaration of American recognition of control over the Golan Heights from Trump.
  • A plate from Trump's wife Melania.
  • A glass box with gold leaves from former President Barack Obama.
  • The first Bible with Rashi's commentary from Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Rashi was a medieval French rabbi and author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud and commentary on the Hebrew Bible.)
  • Items from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

According to Caspit, an aide to Netanyahu claimed that many of the items cannot be located.

"With the end of term as prime minister you were supposed to return all of the gifts you received during your term ... in the condition they were given, with the exception of reasonable wear and tear due to the passage of time," Shlomit Barnea, a legal adviser to the prime minister's office, wrote in the letter to Netanyahu earlier this month, according to Maariv.

The Netanyahu family moved out of the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem on July 10, nearly a month after Bennett succeeded him, The Times of Israel reported.

Netanyahu also was accused of not returning gifts when he left office after losing the 1999 election, the Post reported. Police at the time recommended charges against the former prime minister but the attorney-general decided against an indictment due to a lack of evidence.

The Times reported that Netanyahu is standing trial in three corruption cases, one of which involves allegedly receiving expensive illicit gifts from wealthy supporters.

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Former Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of not returning state gifts received from foreign leaders, including former President Donald Trump, according to...
israel, prime minister, netanyahu, gifts
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2021-03-30
Monday, 30 August 2021 08:03 AM
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