A handwritten document allegedly written by Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, detailing the luxurious travel arrangements of Israel’s first couple was made public on Wednesday.
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The document, revealed by Israeli journalist Raviv Drucker, showed the first lady to be particular about her lodging arrangements.
“The bedroom should never be between the living room and the shower or (and this is preferable) there should be two toilets and showers (for the bedroom and the living room separately) or (like in London) the shower will be in the middle,” Netanyahu wrote about her requirement for her hotel suite.
“The travel instructions also included the names of some of the rich people the [first] couple are connected to in London, and also precise instructions on when to send faxes, where the car should be, and so forth,” Drucker said. “I’m also familiar with countless documents that reveal Mrs. Netanyahu’s knowledge of the tiniest details of upkeep for the Caesarea residence.”
Last week, it was reported that upkeep for the prime minister’s three houses cost the state 3.3 million shekels ($938,300) in 2012 – 1.1 million shekels more than was budgeted for this purpose. Maintenance of the official residence in Jerusalem cost almost 3 million shekels.
In addition, the government shelled out 312,700 shekels for the Netanyahus’ private residence in Caesarea and 4,561 shekels on electricity bills for the family’s private home in Jerusalem.
This money funded flowers and catering services, exterminators, cleaning, maintenance, gardening, heating, kitchenware and cables. The Netanyahus also hired an architect to insulate the Caesarea house, according to an official document from the Prime Minister’s Office that was given to the Movement for Freedom of Information.
The document revealed, inter alia, that the state paid 17,819 shekels last year for gardening at the Caesarea residence, where the Netanyahus sometimes spend weekends. The couple also spent 6,000 shekels on scented candles last year.
The water bill for the Caesarea house came to 81,263 shekels in 2012, plus another 5,579 shekels for the drought tax. Maintenance and cleaning for the Caesarea residence came to 91,310 shekels last year.
The state funded similar expenses at the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, along with some more unusual items. In March 2012, for instance, the Netanyahus – that is, the state – bought 6,913 shekels worth of wine. They also bought a new dishwasher for 4,390 shekels, a refrigerator for 7,600 shekels and an oven for 2,290 shekels.
This week, the state shelled out some 500,000 shekels for the Netanyahus’ 48-hour trip to Italy. This is a relatively high sum, since the couple flew in a wide-bodied Boeing 767 of the type usually used for longer trips.
Asked about the flights, the Prime Minister’s Office said, “The procedure for the prime minister’s flights to diplomatic meetings overseas hasn’t changed; it’s identical to what the Prime Minister’s Office used in the past. On orders from the security services, the prime minister flies abroad only on Israeli airlines. The contract with the airline is made by the travel agency, which is chosen by tender and responsible to the Finance Ministry’s accountant general.” It declined to comment on the rest of the report.