Taxpayers dished out NIS 3.3 million ($940,000) last year to maintain Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s three residences - NIS 1.2 million above budget.
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Netanyahu has his official residence in Jerusalem, a private home in Caesarea and another private home on Gaza Street in Jerusalem. The state spent NIS 2.97 million to maintain the official residence in Jerusalem, NIS 312,700 for the Caesarea home and NIS 4,561 for the Gaza Street home.
The Netanyahus used state funding for amenities such as flowers, catering, cleaning, maintenance, exterminating, fuel and kitchen utensils. The family also hired an architect for sealing and insulation.
When queried by Haaretz, the Prime Minister’s Office offered a quote from Arik Einstein, one of Israel’s most beloved singers, who died last week:
“They act with horrible injustice toward Prime Minister Netanyahu,” Einstein told the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth in 1998 during Netanyahu’s first term in office. “They abuse him, and I’m simply shocked at the force of the disrespect and hatred .... To what degree can one suck out his life’s blood, how far can one go entering private rooms?”
The document from the Prime Minister’s Office detailing the Netanyahus’ spending was sent to the Movement for Freedom of Information.
The state paid NIS 17,819 last year for gardening at the Caesarea house, which Netanyahu occasionally uses on the weekend. The water bill there was well over NIS 80,000. Cleaning and maintenance services ran to NIS 91,310; in June alone the family spent NIS 39,449 on cleaning. The landline telephone bill was NIS 21,702, and the electric bill was NIS 26,322.
In May this year, the Movement for Freedom of Information filed a court petition asking for information on the budget at the Prime Minister’s Residence. The movement had asked the Prime Minister’s Office for the figures but did not receive an answer within the time frame required by law. After filing the petition, the movement received partial details including a table and general information on expenses.
The movement considered this an inadequate reply and continued legal proceedings. It then received the additional information, which the movement still says is inadequate.
“The information on expenses at the Prime Minister’s Residence did not reach the detail we expected,” said the organization’s director, Alona Vinograd. “We hope that following the process led by the movement, more figures will be given.”
The movement also wants to see schedules for activities in Israel and abroad. “There’s no reason the budget of the Prime Minister’s Residence is not given out in full and in detail to the public,” Vinograd said. “This is proper not only for the budget of the Prime Minister’s Residence, but for all public officials.”