The Knesset covered NIS 25,000 in expenses for reflooring and retiling the apartment of then-Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, according to the annual report released by the State Comptroller's Office. The report also found, however, that Itzik had contributed over NIS 25,000 to Knesset coffers of her own initiative.
Government funding for the renovations was approved after the Knesset decided that Itzik's private Jerusalem home qualified as "living expenses" covered by the state. State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss wrote in his report that "given the fact that the expenses were authorized by the Knesset accountant, it would be inappropriate to cite any improprieties in Itzik's behavior on this matter."
Lindenstrauss had previously received a complaint from the head of the Knesset's building, property and logistics department over the renovations at Itzik's home. "While examining the complaint, doubt emerged over whether permission granted to retile the floor conformed with Knesset administration regulations over the apartment's classification as a 'living expense,'" Lindenstrauss wrote.
The report stated that costs associated with maintenance and acquisitions at the home amounted to NIS 244,000. Of that, NIS 33,000 was for furniture and accessories, NIS 30,000 for renovations, NIS 46,000 for maintenance, NIS 32,000 for furniture borrowed from and later returned to the Knesset, and NIS 103,000 for alarm systems and security.
"The Knesset administration does not contain full documentation pointing to how decisions were made over [covering costs for] retiling and reflooring," the report said. "Before work had begun at Itzik's apartment, it would have been appropriate to examine the kinds of expenses that should be covered."
Lindenstrauss also found that criteria for determining what falls under the category of "living expenses" are unclear. "The entire incident could have been avoided had there been clearer, detailed and unequivocal guidelines, rather than ambiguous ones that lent themselves to various interpretations," he wrote.
Meanwhile, the State Comptroller's report indicated that the Knesset acquired carpets in 2006 and 2007 in violation of its own regulations.
All told, the 24 carpets in question cost the state over NIS 133,000, the report said. No tender was held for the carpets, and some were brought to the Knesset building even before authorization for their purchase had been granted. Lindenstrauss found that the carpets had been bought from a supplier whose offer was not the lowest among those found in a price comparison conducted by Knesset authorities.
The report also stated that the Knesset engineer acquired carpets from an intermediary company while circumventing the tender process. Ultimately the purchases were brought before the tender committee, but its authorization was granted merely as a "rubber stamp."
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