State Comptroller Yosef Shapira issued a harsh report against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, accusing him of excessive spending of state funds.
The report finds that the Prime Minister's Residence has been conducting improper expenditures, possibly breaking the law in the process. The details were sent to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to check for the possibility of legal infringements.
The Prime Minister's Residence expenses went from 1.86 million shekels in 2009 to 2.4 million shekels in 2010, inflating further to 3.11 million in 2011. This ballooning trend stopped in 2012 when the expenses fells to 2.86 million shekels, and further to 2.41 million shekels in 2013.
Detailing the expenses further, the report found Netanyahu and his family ordered 71,851 shekels (over $18,000) in prepared meals in 2010, making up roughly a quarter of the food expenses of the Residence, despite having a cook on staff. That figure rose further to 92,781 shekels ($24,000) in 2011.
The report noted "it was found that the option to order private meals for the Prime Minister, his family and his guests was utilized on a regular basis, even when there was a woman working as a cook at the residence, despite the high cost of the expense, which is financed by the public. This contradicts the basic principles of saving and proportionality."
“In light of the considerable drop in expenditures in 2013, it can be determined that the household expenditures on the prime minister, his family and guests at the official residence, especially in 2010 and 2011, and to a lesser extent also in 2012, did not meet a single criteria of the basic principles of proportionality, reasonableness, economy and efficiency,” wrote Shapira.
Likewise despite living nearly exclusively in the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, Netanyahu was found to have spent an average of 8,200 shekels (over $2,000) each month to clean their private home in Caesaria on the coast.
Another finding showed that Netanyahu's wife Sarah hired a private electrician who was a former Likud member to work on their private home in Caesaria. He came to work at their home almost every Shabbat for three months being paid by state money, even though the law only allows state funds to be used for work on a private home in pressing emergency situations.
"A review of output charges for the work performed by the enterprise winner shows that for three months, from September to November, 2009, 10,500 shekels were utilized, which is about 70% of the 15,000 shekels budget that is allocated for an entire year. Moreover, it was found that during these three months service calls were reported almost every weekend, including on Yom Kippur," read the report.
Likud responded to the report, blaming the increase in 2010 and 2011 on former caretaker Menny Naftali who is suing the Netanyahus for alleged abuse he suffered while working for them.
"It is important to note the expenses of the Prime Minister’s residence have been reduced significantly over the past two years. The expenses significantly increased during a specific period of time when the house’s maintenance and operation were directed by Mr. Menny Naftali – an embittered former public employee," read the Likud statement.
"Mr. Naftali is currently leading a campaign of slander and defamation against the Prime Minister with the specific goal of illegitimately leveraging his claim for financial gain from the State coffers and to damage the Prime Minister and the Likud party during this period of Knesset elections. The expenses of the Prime Minister’s residence were reduced significantly following Mr. Naftali’s departure from his former position," concluded the statement.