Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein decided Thursday evening that the police could launch an investigation into the various affairs regarding the spending at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence, but only after the March 17 election. Weinstein also noted that Netanyahu himself was not linked to any possible criminal offense.
Earlier this week, Israel Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said that there is sufficient evidence in order to open a formal examination against Netanyahu.
According to a statement released by the Attorney General's Office, it reviewed "a number of cases in which evidence has been collected and raised suspicions that actions constituting criminal offenses took place."
Nonetheless, the statement said that "the evidence collected indicates that the suspicions regarding the possibly severe (criminal) actions are low… (but) still warrant a probe at the end of which there might be room for a criminal investigation.
"It is worth noting that none of the evidence collected indicate the prime minister was himself involved in any such actions."
A senior source in the law enforcement system said Wednesday that the possible investigation would focus on testimonies and evidence that suggest that the Prime Minister and his wife Sara, or people on their behalf, used state funds to pay for private domestic help in their official residence in Jerusalem. .
If the probe goes forward, Ezra Seidoff, the deputy director of the Prime Minister's Office, will be one of the main individuals who may be called in for questioning.
According to information relayed by the State Comptroller's office, testimonies by Former Prime Minister's Residence manager Meni Naftali, and additional testimonies collected in the past two weeks, there may be legal grounds to launch such a probe.
The most troublesome issue in the Comptroller's report is the employment of Avi Fahima, a private electrician and former Likud Center member. According to the report, Fahima was hired to perform electrical work at Netanyahu's home in Caesarea in defiance of regulations and despite the fact that he is reportedly close to the Netanyahus, in violation of government regulations.
The report mentioned that the employee had hosted the Netanyahu family for the Mimuna celebrations in Passover of 2010. Moreover, it found that Fahima had been hired "under false pretenses", as a different agreement was reached with another contractor, who later hired Fahima as a subcontractor.
The report further found that Fahima had submitted invoices for work done on Shabbat and on Yom Kippur, while suspicions persist that in practice he did not work at those times and received payment for previous work he had done for the family.
Additionally, Channel 2's investigative show "Fact" claimed earlier this week that Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu renovated their private villa in Caesarea to the tune of tens of thousands of shekels at the expense of the state.
According to the Channel 2 show, shortly after the 2009 Israeli elections but before Netanyahu took office as prime minister, the couple engaged Benny Keren, a contractor from Kiryat Haim, to carry out work at their home in Caesarea. Keren was asked to detail the problems in the property and assess the overall damage.
A source in the law enforcement system said Wednesday that "the evidence allegedly shows a criminal method, and there is no escape from examining it. This accumulation (of findings) cannot be ignored," he said.
A senior police source said Wednesday that the Attorney General should hurry in making his decision, in order to prevent any attempts to obstruct the investigation, such as through coordinating versions ahead of the probe.
Workers in the Prime Minister's Office told Yedioth Ahronoth Wednesday that "the findings appear in Menny Nafatli's testimony, the State Comptroller's report and Channel 2's 'Fact' program. What are they waiting for? It looks like they are stalling in order to help those involved in the issue clean out all the dirt."