Haaretz Editorial || The ice cream has gone to Netanyahu's head
Instead of retroactively canceling scandalous expenses, it would behoove the prime minister to make the budget for the prime minister’s residence public. Let the public have a look and decide if that’s how it wants its money spent.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earns NIS 46,700 a month. Aside from his monthly salary, the state covers all the expenses for his Jerusalem residence: food and hospitality, cleaning, gardening, electricity, water, municipal taxes, and phones − both cellular and landline. Naturally, some of the expenses for his home in Caesarea are also covered by the state.
The clothing budget for Netanyahu and his wife totals some NIS 50,000 a year. He has a limousine and a driver. Essentially, the prime minister and his family have no out-of-pocket living expenses.
Last week it emerged that all this still wasn’t enough for Netanyahu. A request for a tender exemption revealed that the state was also allocating NIS 10,000 annually to keep the prime minister supplied with vanilla and pistachio ice cream. The explanation for this allocation was simple: This particular ice cream “was just to the prime minister’s taste.”
But it’s not only the prime minister’s taste that was costing the state thousands of shekels: Some NIS 35,000 a year − nearly NIS 3,000 a month − is paid to the people who do the family’s make-up.
The total lack of transparency with regard to the expenses for the prime minister’s residence − in the budget for the prime minister’s bureau no such clause even appears − still cannot mask the royalist culture that has taken root there during Netanyahu’s regime. The fact that after the ice cream bill became public Netanyahu canceled the contract doesn’t make the many questions it raised superfluous: Is the State of Israel meant to fund ice cream and make-up at a monthly rate that equals a full minimum wage? Is the prime minister’s salary so low that he can’t afford to buy his own ice cream? Are we talking about total obtuseness or just stinginess for its own sake?
Netanyahu constantly talks about the need for transparency and budgetary savings. The ice cream story demonstrates opacity and wastefulness. Instead of retroactively canceling scandalous expenses, it would behoove the prime minister to make the budget for the prime minister’s residence public. Let the public have a look and decide if that’s how it wants its money spent.