In the wake of the public criticism over Prime Minister Netanyahu's spending of taxpayers' money, Israel's state comptroller has announced a probe into public officials' expenses that are covered by the state.
Judge Yosef Shapira decided to open the investigation following requests from MKs, including MK Eitan Cabel (Labor).
The issue of public officials' spending, both in Israel and abroad, has been in the headlines recently. Last month, Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu spent $127,000 of taxpayers money on installing a "resting chamber" on his flight to London for for British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's funeral. Another recent report revealed that spending at the Prime Minister's Resident in Jerusalem has risen by 73 percent since he took office four years ago.
The State Comptrollers Office hold a meeting next week to discuss the scope of the probe. The issue requires a resolution that is transparent and clear for the public, Shapira said.
Netanyahu's "resting chamber" was especially constructed for Netanyahu and his wife on their five-hour flight to London last month, according to the Channel 10 report. Once Netanyahu was informed of Thatcher's death, he announced he would travel to the funeral with his wife Sara. According to the report, his office issued a tender to Israeli airlines to charter a jet for 75 passengers to take the Netanyahus to London and return them to Israel the next day.
The Prime Minister's Office asked that the plane be fitted with 22 business class seats and the infamous resting chamber – a double bed surrounded by four walls and a door. This request was especially costly because only El Al's larger planes are fitted to allow for such arrangements. El Al won the tender with a bid of $427 thousand.
If the Prime Minister's Office were to forgo the resting chamber, Israel's smaller airlines such as Arkia and Israir could have participated in the tender. A simple calculation showed that the resting chamber raised the price of the flight by $127,000.
In 2010, Netanyahu also faced criticism for his spending on a flight. The Prime Minister's Office requested a large plane for a flight to Paris for an OECD meeting, and then on to Canada. The request raised the cost of the trip by some $310,000.
Responding to news of the state comptroller's probe, the Prime Minister's Office said that, "The Prime Minister welcomes the State Comptroller checking the spending of public figures over the years.”
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