Hundreds of curious customers flocked over the weekend to Glida Metudela, the Jerusalem ice-cream parlor recently outed as the beneficiary of a generous government contract. Many demanded the shop’s pistachio flavor, known to be the favorite of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, causing it to sell out. The PM’s other favorite, plain vanilla, did not benefit from any celebrity aura, however.
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On Thursday Netanyahu canceled a state-financed contract worth up to NIS 10,000 for annual ice cream purchases from Glida Metudela for his official residence. He dismissed the expense as extravagant and therefore unacceptable.
Benny Ashkenazi, who bought a pistachio cone on Friday, said, “I didn’t vote for Bibi but he has good taste in ice cream; I came for Bibi’s pistachio.”
Ziva Shvili, who made a special trip to the capital from Rehovot, bought NIS 168 worth of ice cream, in several flavors. “I thought Bibi’s ice cream would be made in a fancy institute. I see the place here is humble,” Shvili said. She received a cone of pistachio ice cream as a bonus, which she tasted and pronounced to be “tasty.”
Despite losing the contract, Glida Metudela’s owners − Hillel Farkash, 44, and Rafi Kanfi, 36 − were pleased by the increased interest in their ice cream, and hoped it would compensate for any loss in sales to the Netanyahu home.
Metudela has been in operation for six years, and Netanyahu has been going there for at least three of them. “Two days before the 2009 election, when he was head of the opposition, Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu sat in the ice-cream parlor,” say the owners, who add that the couple’s son, Yair, brought a date to their shop not too long ago.
After Netanyahu won that election, ice cream for the prime minister’s residence, located nearby, was purchased from Metudela.
The prime minister’s decision to cancel the contract was announced hours after a news report revealed that his bureau received special permission to commission a local ice-cream shop to stock the leader’s official residence with cold treats.
No government tender was issued for the deal under the pretext that the shop carried ice-cream flavors which “cater to the prime minister’s taste,” referring to vanilla and pistachio.
The Prime Minister’s Bureau stressed that the deal was nothing more than “a master contract meant to accommodate guests at the prime minister’s official residence, and did not necessarily mean the entire sum would be spent.”
While Farkash said he would not consider it excessive if the prime minister’s residence spent NIS 800 a month on ice cream, in light of the number of guests it entertains, Netanyahu did not spend the full value of the contract. “If only the spending ceiling had been reached,” Farkash said.
The findings of the report exposing the contract, published by the financial daily Calcalist, drew criticism from Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich. “If there’s no bread, let them eat ice cream,” Yacimovich wrote on her Facebook page Thursday evening.