Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received $20,000 in gold coins on Thursday, the highest payout ever for an Israeli president, after his wife received 50% of the coins from the State Department’s Israel Fund for Economic Development.
The prime minister and wife, Sara Netanyahu, received 10% each of a total of 50,000 coins, which were donated to the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
The coins were donated on the orders of then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
In his official statement, Netanyahu thanked his wife for her contributions.
“It’s a great honor to receive these coins and I’m very grateful for the generous gifts that I’ve received from the US government,” he said.
“In the same way, it’s also a great privilege to share with the American people the fruits of my efforts to grow the Israeli economy.”
He added that his wife “has always been a strong supporter of Israel’s interests, which are good for all Israelis.”
The prime minster’s wife received her share of the gold coins from a donation of $3,400 from the Israeli embassy in Washington in 2016.
She received a separate $2,500 donation from the United States Treasury in 2009.
In 2017, the pair received $2.5 million from the Obama administration, which was the largest donation to Israel from a U.S. government agency.
The couple’s donation has been widely seen as a symbol of American support for Israel.
But critics said the payments were an attempt to curry favor with the Trump administration and were designed to curry favour with the Israeli president’s wife.
Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington on Thursday to attend the annual dinner of the US Congress.
The $20 million donation, which comes on top of the $10 million donated by the Trump family, was a major increase over the $1 million given by Netanyahu’s father, former President Shimon Peres, who served from 2005 to 2016.
Peres was among a small group of US presidents who were in Washington for the dinner.
Netanyahu was among those who received the gifts, which came after US President Donald Trump signed an executive order allowing US citizens and permanent residents to move to Israel if they can show they have a family member who lives there.
A White House official said the president and his wife were not aware of the plan to give the money to the Netanyahu family.
The US president has long been critical of Israel and his foreign policy has been in opposition to the Obama-era policy of “reset” with the Palestinians, which has seen US recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
He has also threatened to cut off payments to US allies Israel and Egypt.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment on the gift.
US President Barack Obama has repeatedly threatened to veto a bill in Congress that would ease restrictions on the sale of military equipment to Israel.
The Israeli Embassy said the money would go to the embassy in the United Kingdom.
The Israel Fund has been a recipient of millions of dollars from the Trump administrations administration.