Israel’s embattled former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked on Monday by the government that ousted him to return gifts he received from foreign leaders during his last decade-long tenure.
Unidentified sources told the Associated Press that the Prime Minister’s Office has requested that Netanyahu return any gifts he received when he occupied this office. An Israeli local outlet reported that the government was seeking the return of 42 items given to Netanyahu, including a rectangular box made of glass decorated with gold leaves with Barack Obama’s signature and the first book of the Bible from Russia President Vladimir Putin. Other gifts in question were reportedly provided by the leaders of France, Germany and the pope among others.
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Netanyahu denied to the AP that the former premier had any of the gifts in his possession. Under Israeli law, any gift worth more than $90 in value is the property of the state of Israel and not the occupant of the prime minister’s office.
Netanyahu’s larger-than-life spending and lifestyle have not been without scrutiny throughout his 15 non-consecutive years as Israel’s prime minister. In fact, the extravagant gifts he received contributed to one of the three criminal cases against him that was filed in November 2019. Netanyahu denies all wrongdoing in any of these instances and has dismissed the cases against him as politically motivated.