Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu household spending has nearly doubled since 2009, growing by 80 percent to some NIS 5.4 million ($1.5m.) in 2012, the state revealed Monday.
The new information comes amid scathing public criticism leveled at Netanyahu after it was revealed that he had spent $127,000 (over 450,000 shekels) of the taxpayers’ money having an El Al plane outfitted with a double bed in an enclosed bedroom for his five-hour flight to London last month to attend the funeral of British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.
The state revealed the data covering the expenses of Netanyahu’s official residence — including food, furniture, cleaning and other day-to-day bills — in response to a petition by the Movement for Freedom of Information (the full Hebrew report is here).
Spending on food and official hospitality jumped 117% to some NIS 480,000 ($133,000) during Netanyahu’s previous term in office (2009-2012), while cleaning expenses grew by 118% to NIS 1.2 million ($332,000). While most of the money went toward the upkeep of Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, in 2012 some NIS 318,000 ($88,000) in public funds were spent on Netanyahu’s personal villa in Caesarea.
Netanyahu has recently come under public scrutiny for organizing a special NIS 10,000 ($2,700) budget for high-end ice cream for his official residence, purchased from a late-night shop down the street in Jerusalem’s posh Rehavia neighborhood.
According to its website, the Movement for Freedom of Information “works to advance transparency in public institutions, to increase oversight of public institutions, and to encourage the public to make use of its right to information.”
“In this instance, the legal procedure was needed only because of the fact that the Prime Minister’s Office ignored a request to transfer the information, which is supposed to be made public by the government itself,” said attorney Ofer Doron, who represented the Movement for Freedom of Information in its petition to release the information about Netanyahu.
Alona Winnograd, another attorney for the organization, told Ma’ariv that it was time for decision-makers in government bodies to “understand their responsibility” and be accountable toward voters.