Wife's outburst on TV adds to Bibi's woes

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The Independent Online
If the opposition does not bring down Benjamin Netanyahu, the embattled Israeli Prime Minister's wife Sara may yet do the job for them.

In the latest of a sequence of embarrassments, Mrs Netanyahu exploded with rage during an Israel Television interview this week when she was grilled about her husband's fidelity. When a simmering peace was restored and the filming ended, she fumed: "I feel like leaving the country." Her husband might be grateful if she did.

It was Mr Netanyahu himself who put his sex life on the national agenda when he confessed on television news four years ago that he had committed adultery with his public relations consultant. He married Sara, a former air hostess, now aged 39, when she was four months pregnant. It was his third marriage and her second.

A bowdlerised version of Mrs Netanyahu's interview will be screened tomorrow in Yael Dan's Personal Story series. Television staff gleefully leaked the bits Mrs Netanyahu persuaded them to leave out to the tabloid daily Yediot Aharonot. The couple has not disputed them.

Yael Dan asked about widely publicised rumours: that Mrs Netanyahu tried to stop the Prime Minister appointing Limor Livnat as Communications Minister because she suspected he was having an affair with her; that the aggrieved wife had forced him to sign a contract regulating their life together.

"I'm not prepared to carry on like this," a furious Mrs Netanyahu retorted, rising from her chair. With the camera still rolling, she went on: "If you want me to say anyone who cheats on his wife is scum, so I say: anyone who cheats on his wife is scum. But what do you want from my husband? You know how many people have propositioned me, and how many of them were MPs? If I investigated, I'd find your husband was cheating on you."

Of Ms Livnat, she snapped: "Her entire goal is to topple the Prime Minister's wife. If it were up to me, she would not have been appointed."

She contrasted her own high profile with the low key of Sonia Peres, the reclusive wife of Mr Netanyahu's Labour predecessor. "Because Sonia is not educated, and she washes dishes and plays cards, that doesn't mean I have to do the same," said Mrs Netanyahu, who has an MA in psychology. "I'm educated and a woman of action."

Mrs Netanyahu's previous publicised antics have included throwing out her children's nanny for burning the soup; twice summoning the Prime Minister from government business to take their son to the doctor; and brusquely evicting a senior official from "her" seat during a transatlantic flight.

This latest Sara furore was the last thing Mr Netanyahu needed at the end of a week when his majority fell to five, and half his coalition was in revolt.