Binyamin and Sara Netanyahu leave for the US..
(photo credit: AVI OHAYON - GPO)
Intense public criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2013 for what was widely seen as exorbitant spending on his official residence in Jerusalem and private home in Caesarea has apparently had an impact, as the operating budget released on Monday for the two homes fell again significantly in 2014.
According to information given by the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday, following a petition filed by the Movement for Freedom of Information legal adviser Rachel Edri, the state spent just under NIS 2 million on operating and maintenance expenses on the two residences last year.
The breakdown was some NIS 1.7m. on the official Jerusalem residence, and NIS 285,000 on the home in Caesarea.
A public outcry emerged in 2013 after it was reported that the state paid some NIS 5.43m. for the two residences in 2012 – including for huge water bills, scented candles and flowers – a dramatic jump from the NIS 1.8m. the state paid for the Prime Minister’s Residence when Netanyahu came to power in 2009.
The 2014 figures represent a downward trend that began in 2013, when the country spent 25 percent less in housing expenses than the year before.
Anat Horowitz, the director-general of the Movement for Freedom of Information, said that it was “unfortunate that the Prime Minister’s Office again chose not to elaborate on the public day-to-day expenses of the prime minister in a transparent matter.”
She said that after similar petitions were filed in the past, one could have expected the PMO to take the initiative and publish the information fully and on its own accord, “giving the public the opportunity to examine the distribution of spending. The Movement for Freedom of Information will continue to insist on the transfer of the full information to the public.”