The Price of the Presidency: Peres' Office Reveals Cost to Taxpayers

President Shimon Peres had a $16.7 million shekel budget last year, figures show.

President Shimon Peres had a budget of 58 million shekels ($16.7 million) for himself and his office last year, and spent a total of 57 million, according to information provided at the request of the Movement for Freedom of Information in Israel.

The organization asked for a full list of Peres’ and his bureau’s expenses last year.

This budget, the president’s office noted, covers all branches of operations including the clemency department, the department for ceremonies and events, security, diplomacy, contact with the public, assets, archives and maintenance. It also noted that Peres chose not to use his private residence over the weekends regularly in order to save money.

The most expensive line item was operating expenses, which includes ceremonies to greet foreign dignitaries, at 11 million shekels, or 19% of all expenses. Following that was trips abroad. Peres’ travels last year cost a total of 8 million shekels. A full half of that sum went to security expenses, at the order of the Shin Bet security service.

Total manpower costs totaled 25 million shekels, or 44% of all expenses. Close to 1 million shekels was spent on construction and renovations at the President’s Residence.

The budget also includes the state budget for former presidents and their widows. Last year this sum totaled 2.6 million shekels. Peres’ office explicitly mentioned former president Yitzhak Navon and the widows of Chaim Herzog and Ezer Weizman. It did not mention Peres’ direct predecessor, Moshe Katsav, who is currently in jail.

Shimon Peres
AP