Channel 2: Netanyahu Used Airline Points for Wife

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been accumulating El Al frequent flyer miles on official flights and using them for his wife's benefit, Channel 2 will report in tonight's news.

If true, this would stand in flagrant violation of the Knesset Ethic Committee guidelines. He used 1,800 points, about $1,000, to subsidize business class flights to Paris for Sarah, Channel 2's Amit Segal claims.

Netanyahu has accumulated 10,567 points, which are equal to about NIS 26,000. Contrary to the ethics code, he used 1800 points, worth about $1,000, to pay for his wife Sarah's business class flight to Paris, Channel 2 says.

The Knesset's ethics code prohibits acceptance of any material benefit for an act inside or outside the Knesset, carried out as part of his duty or position as a member of Knesset.

At the beginning of 2007, the Knesset Ethics Committee ruled that frequent flyer miles were a clear perk and completely forbidden to use.

Netanyahu, says Segal, has flown since February 2007 five times at the expense of the party that invited him.

On all of his flights, Netanyahu flew either first or business class. In most cases, the points were transferred to his frequent flyer's account in El Al, in violation of the ethics code. They are worth the equivalent of seven round-trip tickets to New York and another trip to London (in economy class).

On December 10, 2007 MK Netanyahu flew to Paris at the Knesset's expense. His wife flew at the inviting party's expense. When the Ethics Committee refused to approve this, Netanyahu's office asked the family's travel agent to pay for Sarah's ticket in business class by using her husband's frequent flyer miles.

Netanyahu's office commented that "frequent flyer miles are automatically accumulated with each El Al flight, and the miles in question were not acquired through any act of Netanyahu's. As soon as Netanyahu was made aware that use had been made of his points for one trip, he gave instructions to rectify the situation."