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Netanyahu brings dirty laundry to Washington for US staff to wash: Report

For the first time, US officials have commented on the Israeli prime minister's behaviour, which has been reported on for years
One US official said that after multiple trips to Washington it became clear that the bringing of the dirty laundry was intentional (AFP)

Officials in the United States are said to be baffled by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s practice of flying bags of dirty laundry from Israel on official visits so they can be washed by US government workers.

The report in the Washington Post chimes with years of reporting by Israeli journalists but is the first time US officials have commented on the matter in a leading US publication. 

According to the Post, when Netanyahu arrives for official visits in Washington and stays at the Blair House, the presidential guesthouse located across from the White House, he brings with him “bags and suitcases full of dirty laundry” from Israel. 

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The clothes are then “cleaned for the prime minister free of charge by the US staff,” paid for by US taxpayer money, according to the report. 

The Blair House offers free laundry services to all its guests, but the report makes clear that most leaders use it only to wash the clothes they and their families wear during their visit.

“The Netanyahus are the only ones who bring actual suitcases of dirty laundry for us to clean,” one US official explained in the article. 

“After multiple trips, it became clear this was intentional.”

'They somehow hide it'

Netanyahu has faced criticism in Israel for years over the same behaviour described in the report. 

In 2011, Israeli journalist Raviv Drucker reported for the first time about the Netanyahu family’s laundry habit. 

In 2018, Nir Hefetz, Netanyahu’s former spin doctor who turned into a state witness against him, said that “on every trip suitcases come filled with laundry for dry cleaning, and I’m telling you that journalists have asked me about it and I’ve checked the bills. Nothing appears in the bills, they somehow hide it.”

Netanyahu was in the US earlier this month for the signing of normalisation accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Netanyahu lives with his family during the week at the official Israeli prime ministers’ residence, which has its own washer and dryer, and enjoys state-funded access to dry cleaning services. 

'Pair of pyjamas'

In 2016, Haaretz reported, Netanyahu filed an administrative petition against the attorney general and a staff member at the prime minister's office in an effort to bar publication of receipts for laundry services provided to the premier's official residence during 2014.

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The Israeli embassy in Washington replied to the Post's article by saying that: “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 added: “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 were also laundered.”

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.