An already questionable video that showed the dilapidated kitchen at Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence as proof of the prime minister’s frugal lifestyle drew more suspicion on Monday, as a report emerged that the building sports lavish cooking facilities on another floor.
Channel 10 reported that its archives contained footage of Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, shot during his term in office between 2006-2009, in a modern, well-appointed kitchen on the second floor of the building.
The report came after the publication earlier in the day of a video, apparently meant to counter accusations of overspending by the prime minister and his wife, showing the run-down furnishings at the official residence.
In the video, the Netanyahus called on TV celebrity interior designer Moshik Galamin to inspect the premises and give his professional opinion. To his horror, Galamin discovered, as he was guided around for 15 minutes by Sara Netanyahu, that the residence was in serious disrepair, with crumbling plaster and peeling paint.
But the absolute worst was the rundown kitchen badly in need of updating. Galamin took one disgusted look at the peeling laminate on the cupboards and the broken oven handle and declared, “This looks like the kitchen of a Romanian orphanage from 1954!”
Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin criticized the video for breaching security protocols because it showed the interior of the prime minister’s home.
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira’s was set to issue a report Tuesday on an investigation into allegations of excessive spending and misappropriation of state funds by Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, at the official residence, located on Jerusalem’s Smolenskin Street.
Shapira’s report was expected to not deal with the state of the residence, but rather with expenses such as flights, catering and alcoholic beverages, and flower arrangements.
The virtual tour was understood by many as an effort to dull any potential fallout from the comptroller’s findings.
Diskin, an outspoken critic of the prime minister, charged that the Netanyahus’ “panic” at the comptroller’s report made them forget the security threats they faced.
“Shooting a video inside the prime minister’s residence is a severe security breach,” Diskin wrote on his Facebook page Monday.
“What did we have here? Doors, windows, the type of locks, rooms, internal architecture and furniture, all phone connection points and other gadgets,” he wrote.
Questions were also raised as to who paid for the production of the 15-minute film, with the Netanyahus and the Likud party both denying Galamin received any payment, the Hebrew media Haaretz website reported.
The report noted that some of the camera angles in the video conveniently showed Sara Netanyahu and Galamin standing in front of an art deco picture of the Netanyahu’s printed onto a block of wood. Galamin later shows the back of the picture to note that it was a gift from him to the Netanyahus — produced by a new business venture of his for taking photos from the picture-sharing website Instagram and printing them on a wooden block.
Netanyahu’s opponents slammed the clip as an electioneering stunt, and said the video would not distract the public from the allegations of excessive spending and misappropriation of state funds.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.