Reports claiming that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled at the expense of businessmen and donors are "vicious gossip," the premier's wife Sara Netanyahu said in a TV interview on Thursday, adding that she felt every Israeli politician needed to be investigated over what she called "standard" funding procedures.
The interview with Mrs. Netanyahu came as State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss announced he would investigate claims made in a Channel 10 report, according to which Netanyahu was in the habit of allowing donors to pay for his overseas travel.
Speaking with Channel 2 on Thursday, Sara Netanyahu spoke of her decision to respond publically to the reports, saying she didn't "have more strength for another attack."
"Again I am placed as a target before the public, again the prime minister is targeted through me," Netanyahu said, calling the Channel 10 "vicious gossip, of the kind that has turned into a regular ritual of hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness, and enough. Enough already. It needs to stop!"
In the interview, Netanyahu claims that every Israeli politician should be investigated over their travel funding, saying that it was a standard and permissible habit. She added that there was no ethical problem with the couple's travels, calling the reports of special treatment disingenuous.
"We travelled according to the standards of the former prime minister," Netanyahu said, referring to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The premier himself made his first public comments concerning the Channel 10 allegations, satressing in a YouTuve interview on Wednesday that none of his trips abroad had been funded improperly.
He said the media applied double standards to him, compared to its treatment of other Israeli prime ministers, presidents, cabinet members and Knesset members. All these figures behaved in exactly the same way regarding overseas trips, Netanyahu said.
"It's is infected by hypocrisy, because every year there are hundreds of trips by Knesset members, ministers and former prime ministers," he said.
"There is a standard for trips. The standard for former prime ministers and presidents is acceptable, and no different than what happens with [former U.S. President Bill] Clinton or [former British Prime Minister Tony] Blair. Other people didn't travel on charter flights or sleep in youth hostels."
He denied that his trips had been funded by foreign businessmen.
"Those who send invitations are not donors or private individuals. All this has been distorted .... You don't travel to a private affair - these are public events sponsored by bodies that are trying to help Israel, or encourage immigration to Israel. These aren't private trips. Who will finance them? Donors."
Netanyahu formulated much of his responses as attacks on the media, and hinted that journalists were trying to harm him and his family, for partisan reasons.
"The truth will see the light of day," he said. "You cannot hold me to a double standard. Everyone travels with their wives. The most awful thing is that to harm me, they attack my wife in a horrific, unjustified manner."
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