Israel PM's wife reaches plea deal in delivery meals case: reports

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embraces his wife Sara as his right-wing Likud party celebrates victory, at least on paper, in the April 9 general election (AFP Photo/Thomas COEX)

Jerusalem (AFP) - The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached a plea bargain with prosecutors over accusations she used state funds to fraudulently pay for hundreds of meals, media reports said Wednesday.

Sara Netanyahu had been charged with fraud and breach of trust in June 2018 for allegedly misusing state funds to pay for catered meals costing $100,000 (85,000 euros) by falsely declaring there were no cooks available at the prime minister's official residence.

According to Israeli media reports, she agreed to reimburse the state 45,000 shekels ($12,440, 11,160 euros) and pay another 10,000 shekels ($2,770, 2,480 euros) as a fine as part of the plea deal.

She will also admit the relatively light charge of exploiting the mistake of another person, according to the reports.

The agreement would have to be approved by the court.

Spokespeople for the court administration, justice department and Netanyahu family refused to comment on the reports.

According to the indictment, between 2010 and 2013, Sara Netanyahu, her family and guests "fraudulently (received) from the state hundreds of prepared meals" ordered from a variety of well-known Jerusalem businesses.

Netanyahu, 60 and a high-profile presence at her husband's side throughout his long tenure in office, denied any wrongdoing throughout the trial.

She has also faced accusations of mistreating staff, and in 2016 a court awarded some $47,000 in damages to a former housekeeper who accused the couple of repeated workplace abuse.

Separately, Benjamin Netanyahu is facing possible indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in the months ahead and is reportedly seeking legislation that would result in him being granted immunity.

He has been unable to form a governing coalition following April elections and has until a Wednesday night deadline to do so.

The deadlocked coalition negotiations may result in snap elections only months after the previous vote.