Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a NIS 10,000 ($2,700) budget from the government for buying high-end ice cream for his official residence from a late-night shop down the street.
The Prime Minister’s Residence had already spent NIS 3,000 on ice cream by May of last year, and therefore filed a special request for budgeting thousands of shekels more for ice cream from a nearby shop that Netanyahu especially liked, the financial newspaper Calcalist reported Thursday night.
The request mentioned no less than three times that the gelateria was selected “on the personal taste and desire of the prime minister” and because it was “near the official residence… and open until late hours.”
The request was exempt from the ordinary filing of tenders for provisioning the residence with food and other supplies.
A kilogram of the prime minister’s favorite flavors, vanilla sorbet and pistachio, costs NIS 55 and NIS 65, respectively, at the vendor in question.
The report did not detail which ice cream shop the prime minister hankers for regularly, but a branch of the chain Katzefet is located near his residence on Jerusalem’s Gaza Street and has flavors, hours and prices matching Netanyahu’s tastes.
At those prices, the prime minister’s residence could have consumed a staggering 167 kilograms of ice cream in 2012. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, however, the NIS 10,000 was a budget cap for hosting at the official residence, and the entire sum was not necessarily used.
The report comes against the backdrop of the government saying it will have to make heavy cuts to ministry budgets and public entitlements in the upcoming budget to rein in a higher-than-expected deficit.
On Wednesday, the Bank of Israel governor said the state would have to raise an additional NIS 7.5 billion in taxes to narrow the deficit.
The PMO did not respond to an inquiry as to whether this kind of expenditure was acceptable, especially when the country’s financial state requires deep budget cuts, Calcalist reported.