Netanyahu’s wife ‘demands to enter cockpit’ after pilot fails to welcome her over plane loudspeaker

Israeli prime minister’s office claims report was ‘distorted’

Tom Embury-Dennis
Monday 19 August 2019 13:41 BST
Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu touch down in Ukraine

The wife of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempted to enter a plane’s cockpit in a fury after the pilot failed to welcome her in a loudspeaker announcement, reports say.

Sara Netanyahu, who admitted earlier this year to misusing public funds, left her seat and angrily demanded to see the pilot, but was stopped by security guards on Sunday’s flight to Ukraine, Channel 12 reported.

Following the incident, the captain reportedly made another loudspeaker announcement to welcome the 60-year-old, who is accompanying her husband on a trip to Kiev.

The prime minister’s office failed to deny an incident involving Ms Netanyahu had occurred, but branded the report “distorted”.

“There was a misunderstanding which was immediately clarified and the flight went according to plan,” a spokesperson said.

“The story about the security guards, as well, is a total lie. It is another attempt to divert attention from the important international visit that the prime minister carried out.”

El Al, the plane’s operator, also said the flight “went according to plan”.

The Netanyahus were met on the tarmac in Kiev by the city’s mayor Vitali Klitschko, a former world heavyweight boxing champion.

The visit is the first by an Israeli prime minister since Mr Netanyahu travelled to the country in March 1999, during his first term.

Mr Netanyahu is also the first foreign leader to visit Kiev since the April election of President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former actor with no previous political experience.

The Israeli prime minister and Mr Zelensky were due to hold talks on Monday morning. In a video message ahead of the visit, Mr Netanyahu said discussions in Kiev would touch upon the “establishment of a free-trade area, [a] pensions agreement, and a host of other issues that will further strengthen the excellent relationship between the two countries”.

In June, Ms Netanyahu was ordered to pay 55,000 shekels (£12,100) after she admitted using taxpayer money to order hundreds of takeaway meals.

She avoided a prison sentence after agreeing a plea deal with prosecutors to settle allegations that she fraudulently ordered £80,000 worth of restaurant food.

Under the agreement, the fraud charge was dropped and she pleaded guilty to the lesser criminal offence of intentionally exploiting another person’s mishandling of state money for her own benefit.

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