Israel's Netanyahu brings his (literally) dirty laundry to the White House: reports

Israel's Netanyahu brings his (literally) dirty laundry to the White House: reports
The Israeli premier and his wife have reportedly engaged in the strange habit for years.
3 min read
24 September, 2020
The Netanyahus have a reputation for extravagant spending in Israel [Getty]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a bizarre habit of bringing suitcases full of dirty clothes on trips to the White House, the Washington Post reported.

The Israeli premier and his wife have reportedly developed a taste for US government laundering, which is available for free to White House visitors.

Netanyahu regularly brings "bags and suitcases full of dirty laundry" on visits to Blair House, the guest house for official visitors to Washington.

While all visitors who stay at Blair House are offered a free laundry service, most use it only to clean the clothes they and their family wear during a US visit. The laundry service is completed by US government workers and paid for with tax payers' money.

But according to the Tuesday Washington Post report, "the Netanyahus are the only ones who bring actual suitcases of dirty laundry for us to clean".

"After multiple trips, it became clear this was intentional," a US official said.

It is the first time the strange laundry habit has been reported in international media but the Israeli premier has previously faced criticism at home over the behaviour, first reported in 2011.

Netanyahu and his family ordinarily live in the official Israeli Prime Ministers' Residence which has its own washer and dryer, according to Haaretz, as well as access to a state-fund dry cleaning service.

Reporters have previously attempted to investigate those laundry services at home. In 2016, Netanyahu filed an administrative petition against Israel's attorney general and a prime ministerial office staffer in an attempt to stop his laundry receipts from coming to light.

A judge ultimately sided with the prime minister and the Netanyahus' dirty laundry has remained a secret pending an appeal at the Supreme Court.

The Israeli embassy in Washington has denied Tuesday's report.

"These groundless and absurd allegations are aimed at belittling Prime Minister Netanyahu's monumental achievement in Tuesday's historic peace summit brokered by President Trump at the White House," the embassy said in a statement referring to the signing of a US-brokered agreement to normalise ties between Israel and the UAE.

"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," the statement continued.

"Oh yes, a pair of pajamas that the Prime Minister wore on the 12 hour flight from Israel to Washington were also laundered."
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A US official told The Washington Post that the prime minister's most recent visit did not include mutliple suitcases of laundry, unlike some visits in the past.

The report also claims the Netanyahus take their dirty laundry on trips to other countries as well.

Both Netanyahu and his wife Sara have attracted criticism for their allegedly extravagant spending habits in the past.

Last year, Sara Netanyahu agreed to pay out $15,000 as part of a plea deal to settle a case alleging she spent more than $100,000 of state money at luxury restaurants. The prime minister's wife has also faced legal troubles for her alleged abuse of a former housekeeper.

An official 2016 report said the Netanyahus spent $68,000 on make-up, hairstyling and "presentation" in just two years. That works out at $325 per person per week.

The report by Comptroller Joseph Shapira also found the family spent $41,000 in a year on takeout meals ($111 daily) despite also employing an in-house chef and spending $213 a day on groceries and other entertainment expenses.

The Israeli premier is currently on trial on allegations of corruption including accepting gifts from wealthy friends and offering benefits to media moguls in return for positive coverage. The trial officially opened in May and is due to resume in January next year.

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