Knesset Panel: Extend Probe of Improper Funds Beyond Netanyahu

If probe expanded, special investigator looking into the allegations that PM Netanyahu used private funds for trips will also examine travels of former prime ministers, opposition heads, presidents and cabinet ministers.

Members of the State Control Committee want a probe into how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu funded his travel abroad expanded to cover all senior political figures of the past decade.

The committee will be voting on a proposal by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to expand the power of the special investigator investing Netanyahu's travels.

Netanyahu - Reuters

Likud MKs on the committee say they will agree to have the investigator's powers expanded only if the probe goes beyond Netanyahu and his wife, and also examines the travels of former prime ministers, opposition heads, presidents and cabinet ministers.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss asked for the mandate to be expanded last week.

The Likud MKs have the backing of other coalition MKs on the committee. Likud members say investigating only the Netanyahus' travels borders on political persecution and is discriminatory.

Committee chairman Yoel Hasson of Kadima will decide whether to call a vote on the matter after Lindenstrauss himself explains his request.

If Lindenstrauss agrees to the call for a broader investigation, Hasson is likely to have the committee vote on the proposal. If Lindenstrauss insists on his original request, which simply relates to the investigator's powers and not to the investigation's scope, or that the investigation must be limited to the Netanyahus, the coalition is likely to turn him down.

The committee voted to expand the investigator's powers last week, but the Knesset's legal adviser annulled the vote after receiving complaints from coalition members who said that the committee meeting was convened on short notice and that most members were not there.

Yesterday Knesset Ethics Committee chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich (Labor ) confirmed that her committee had also received two complaints about how the prime minister had funded his travel abroad, one from the Ometz good government organization and the other from the Movement for Quality Government.

Such complaints are customarily dealt with only after legal investigations are completed.