While black-tie banquets, lavish royal receptions and priceless gifts are the most obvious extravagances of international diplomacy, Israel’s leader and his wife have spotlighted a lesser-known perk of the state visit: free dry cleaning.

Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu have developed a reputation for lugging bags and suitcases of dirty clothes on foreign trips to be laundered at another country’s expense, a practice noticed by staff at the White House guesthouse, according to the Washington Post.

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

The Israeli prime minister’s office has denied the allegation, but it is not the first time the 70-year-old leader has been accused of taking soiled clothes abroad for a rinse.

In 2018, leaked transcripts emerged containing allegations that Sara Netanyahu packed “four or five” suitcases worth of laundry for state trips. Two years previously, the prime minister successfully launched a legal bid to have his domestic laundry bills remain private.

The Israeli embassy in Washington said in a statement the allegations were “groundless and absurd”, and aimed at distracting from Netanyahu’s recent US visit, where he signed accords to normalise relations with the United Arab 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,” the embassy statement said. “Oh yes, a pair of pyjamas that the prime minister wore on the 12-hour flight from Israel to Washington was also laundered.”

In its report, the Washington Post said last week’s visit did not include multiple suitcases of laundry, but that “political and career officials spanning the Trump and Obama administrations” had confirmed several previous mass cleaning incidents.

The allegations have compounded domestic accusations that the Netanyahus have sought to exploit the benefits of high office, no matter how small.

Last year, Sara Netanyahu was convicted of illegally misusing tens of thousands of pounds of public funds on lavish meals, despite having an in-house cook provided by the state.

Meanwhile, the prime minister is on trial in three corruption cases, including charges he accepted expensive gifts including champagne, jewellery and cigars. Netanyahu denies all accusations.

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