$1m price of Sarah's secrets

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Sarah Netanyahu, wife of the Israeli Prime Minister, is at the centre of a dispute over a book her ex-husband plans to publish about the seven years he was married to her.

Israeli television said Binyamin Netanyahu and his aides failed to persuade Doron Neuberger, a teacher on a kibbutz, not to go into print. The Prime Minister's office said Mr Neuberger demanded $1m (pounds 660,000) to remain silent.

Interest in Mrs Netanyahu has been keen since the time, shortly after her husband became prime minister, that their nanny said she had been dismissed for burning the soup, and spoke of Mrs Netanyahu's obsessive cleanliness.

Mr Neuberger, who divorced Mrs Netanyahu in 1987, said her access to secret documents endangered the state; he wrote the book after seeing Mr and Mrs Netanyahu on television reviewing state papers together.

Exactly what is in the book nobody knows but the nanny affair gave bizarre glimpses into the home life of the Netanyahus. A second nanny, dismissed after a week, said Mrs Netanyahu allowed her to eat an egg only once every two days, on grounds of expense.

Before the nanny revelations, Mrs Netanyahu had attracted attention only once when, during the battle for the Likud party leadership four years ago, she stood by her husband when he admitted to adultery. In the election campaign this year she was with him the whole time, apparently as an example of family values, but said little.

Even before Mr Neuberger emerged from his kibbutz to tell all, the Hartsufim television programme, which uses puppets, had planned to feature the Netanyahus. The protagonists will be a family of cockroaches living under Mrs Netanyahu's kitchen and will comment on her problems with Binyamin, nannies and her ex-husband.