Does Benjamin Netanyahu bring dirty clothes to the White House to avail free laundry service on official visits?

The Israeli PM and his wife Sara have faced similar accusations in the past and the latest allegation has surfaced following the premier's visit to the US

                            Does Benjamin Netanyahu bring dirty clothes to the White House to avail free laundry service on official visits?
Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara (Getty Images)

Israel has seen a trusted friend in President Donald Trump's America. Washington has not only backed the Jewish state in the struggle against the Palestinian people but also facilitated peace between Israel and Arab states like the UAE and Bahrain. And it seems the Israeli leadership is so enamored of the US that it did not even hesitate to bring bags full of dirty laundry to Washington to avail the free laundry service which is offered to foreign leaders, it has been claimed.

According to a claim made by staff members at the White House guest house, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara have a reputation of carrying dirty clothes on foreign trips to get them laundered at the expense of the host nation, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, September 24. 

Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump, Foreign Affairs Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and Foreign Affairs Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony of the White House after the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House on September 15, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

"The Netanyahus are the only ones who bring actual suitcases of dirty laundry for us to clean," the daily quoted an unidentified US official as saying. "After multiple trips, it became clear this was intentional."

Netanyahus have been accused of the same in the past

The office of Netanyahu, who is currently serving his fifth term in office, denied the allegation. But it is not the first time that the 70-year-old has been accused of such "stained" activities.

In 2018, leaked tape transcripts came out that alleged Sara packed "four of five" suitcases full of laundry for state trips. In 2016, Netanyahu even went to the extent of asking a court in Jerusalem to nullify a decision to release his laundry bills and also those of his family under Israel’s Freedom of Information Law. The Netanyahu family has been accused of misuse of state funds in the past, resulting in an investigation.

Last year, Sara was even convicted of misusing public funds on lavish meals, despite having a state-provided cook. Prime Minister Netanyahu is also on trial in three corruption cases, including charges that he accepted costly gifts like champagne, jewellery and cigars. The fresh allegations of the PM dumping dirty clothes in another country for cleaning will add to the political family's embarrassment.

Israeli embassy releases statement denying charges

Coming back to the latest allegation against the Israeli premier in the US, the Israeli embassy in Washington issued a statement saying the laundry allegations against the leader were "groundless and absurd" and were done more to distract his recent visit to Washington where he signed deals to normalize relations with the Emirates and Bahrain. 

"On this visit, for example, there was no dry cleaning, only a couple of shirts were laundered for the public meeting, and the prime minister's suit and Mrs Netanyahu's dress were ironed also for the public meeting. Oh yes, a pair of pyjamas that the prime minister wore on the 12-hour flight from Israel to Washington was also laundered," the embassy said in the statement, giving details about the laundry service the prime minister availed.

The WaPo report said that Netanyahu's visit last week did not include several suitcases of laundry but that "political and career officials spanning the Trump and Obama administrations" had reported mass cleaning incidents that happened previously.

Netanyahu has a history of sparking controversy in his foreign-affairs dealings. In 2018, he hosted Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister of Japan, and his wife over dinner at his official residence and offered the guests dessert in what appeared to be a lace-up leather shoe. The move had earned wide criticism both in Israel and Japan.

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