The State Comptroller announced on Saturday that he will soon release a report on the seemingly excessive expenditures at the prime minister’s residences, after Haaretz reported that the report has been held up for weeks.
According to the State Comptroller’s statement, a near complete version of the report has been sent to the attorney general in August 2014, and denied reports that the comptroller acquiesced to Netanyahu’s lawyer’s request to hold back the report until after the elections in March.
On Saturday evening, Likud’s representative Nir Hefetz confirmed that the Netanyahu family returned 4,000 shekels (about 1,000$) to the state’s coffers, following a Haaretz exclusive report that exposed that Netanyahu’s wife Sara kept thousands of shekels from deposits on empty bottles that were returned, on her orders, to supermarkets in Jerusalem over the course of several years.
In an interview with Channel 2, Hefetz avoided answering his interviewer directly and instead said: "I’m not an expert on all the technicalities of how things worked. I think most citizens watching us are tired with the onslaught on Mrs. Netanyahu."
When asked why the PM’s Residence purchased 150,000 shekels worth of alcohol over a period of 19 months during Netanyahu’s previous term, Hefetz answered that "these numbers are a complete fabrication. Tomorrow the PM’s Office will release the real data. First of all, the PM’s Residence doesn’t buy any liquor. Regarding wine – about one bottle was bought every day, which was meant for guests."
Hefetz added that the story is "driven by the left and by elements in the media, whose interest is not to deal with who is guarding our children, who is watching the northern border and stops Iran from going nuclear. The important issues are not been dealt with."
In answer to the question how the sum that was eventually returned to the state was calculated, Hefetz said that "the answer for the calculation of the 4,000 shekels will be revealed a lot sooner than the answer regarding the funding sources of leftist groups."
On Saturday morning, Netanyahu’s political rivals attacked the prime minister for the alleged embezzlement and excessive expenditure at his residence. Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On called on the attorney general to launch an immediate investigation against Netanyahu on suspicion of embezzlement. "If there’s any truth to the allegations, Netanyahu must remove his candidacy and go home," Gal-On said, adding that Netanyahu is hiding behind his wife’s back instead of taking public responsibility for his actions.
Zionist Camp co-chair Tzipi Livni slammed Netanyahu, saying that his monthly alcohol budget amounts to the monthly salary of one million Israelis.
Livni’s co-chair and Labor leader Isaac Herzog also attacked the prime minister, saying Netanyahu is "busy with accusations, throwing the responsibility on former prime ministers and on the Israeli media, hiding behind incessant scare tactics and stories about empty bottles."