State Comptroller Given Special Authorities to Probe of Bibi-Tours Claims

Knesset's State Control Committee votes unanimously to grant State Comptroller's Office investigator such as power of subpoena, document requests.

The Knesset's State Control Committee authorized to expand the power of the special investigator investing Benjamin Netanyahu's travels expenses in special session on Tuesday

The motion, which was submitted by State Comptroller Micah Lindenstrauss and unanimously approved, effectively provided the special investigator with the same authorities as a governmental committee, authorities that included power of subpoena, as well as requesting documents.

Micha Lindenstrauss,Benjamin Netanyahu - GPO - 28/6/2010

Lindenstrauss was given vocal support prior to the State Control Committee session by former State Comptroller Eliezer Goldberg, who said that it was "unthinkable for the government or the State Control Committee set the comptroller's agenda."

"The comptroller's decisions regarding those areas under his jurisdiction are his alone, and any attempt to dictate the issues under his inspection could injure his independence," Goldberg added.

The committee voted to expand the investigator's powers last week, but the Knesset's legal adviser annulled the vote after receiving complaints from coalition members who said that the committee meeting was convened on short notice and that most members were not there.

The committee also voted on expanding the State Comptroller's Office's investigation to go beyond claims concerning Netanyahu's affairs, and will now include a prove of all the travel expenses of all minister and deputy ministers beginning 2006 – the last two governments.

On Monday, Knesset Ethics Committee chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich (Labor ) confirmed that her committee had also received two complaints about how the prime minister had funded his travel abroad, one from the Ometz good government organization and the other from the Movement for Quality Government.

Such complaints are customarily dealt with only after legal investigations are completed.