Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu testifies wife did not have veto over high-level decisions

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Jan. 23 (UPI) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday called accusations that his wife, Sara Netanyahu, had a written agreement giving her approval of high-level government decisions “shameful.”

The couple testified in court as part of a defamation lawsuit against the man claiming to have seen the document, which he says gave Sara Netanyahu power to approve certain agency appointments, among other items.

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Netanyahu associate David Shimron filed the defamation lawsuit on the prime minister’s behalf against former government official David Artzi.

Artzi claims he saw the document, which he claims gave Sara Netanyahu the right to approve the head of government agencies, including the Israel Defense Forces, as well as its Mossad intelligence service and Shin Bet internal security agency.

He also contends the document prohibited the prime minister from traveling overnight without his wife and that violating any portion of the agreement would result in the couple’s joint property being transferred exclusively to her.

The Netanyahus denied such an agreement exists.

“There is no agreement between me and my wife,” the prime minister testified in court Monday. “This is a despicable claim.”

Sara Netanyahu also called claims that she once threw her husband out of his own guarded motorcade “delusional.”

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“This agreement did not exist and was not created. It’s not nice to say that there is an agreement between spouses. There was no agreement and no lawyer will see an agreement,” Sara Netanyahu testified.

Benjamin Netanyahu also testified that his appointment of Naftali Bennett as the country’s defense minister is proof that no such agreement exists. The couple publicly disagreed over Bennett’s appointment to the post.

Allies have said the couple are close, but not so close as to draw up such a legal document.

“There was a very high level of involvement by her. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. I want to articulate myself respectfully, so let me just say that it was clear that Netanyahu was very, very attentive to her. When he was screaming on the phone, I knew she was next to him. When we would meet alone, I knew there’s nothing important to discuss,” former Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Haaretz in an interview earlier this month.

Lieberman is the current leader of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party.

This story has been updated to reflect that Naftali Bennet is not Israel’s current defense minister.