The Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu lives with his family and frequently hosts official functions and dinners, cost the taxpayers some NIS 2.97 million in 2012.
The detailed list of expenses – reported on Sunday by the Prime Minister’s Office – came following a court petition by the Movement for Freedom of Information.
The report also indicated that another NIS 312,000 was spent on Netanyahu’s home in Caesarea, and NIS 4,561 – all of that on electricity costs – for his private apartment on Aza Street in Jerusalem.
Israel is not the only country where operating costs for the country’s leaders make headlines and create a stir.
Last September, Republican lobbyist Robert Keith Gray wrote a book called Presidential Perks Gone Royal, in which he claimed that US taxpayers spend $1.4 billion annually to house, staff, entertain and fly US President Barack Obama and his family.
According to the book, operating expenses for the White House building come to some $14.6m. a year, and another $6m. is spent on the White House grounds.
Some of Obama’s opponents used these figures against him in the last presidential campaign, even though another book said that George W. Bush cost the taxpayers $1.6b. a year.
The Prime Minister’s Office report released Sunday was a more detailed account of a similar report issued in May. Among the budget items were NIS 25,000 for gardening on the Caesarea home, NIS 80,000 in water bills for that home and some NIS 35,000 for wine and flowers at the official residence in Jerusalem.
According to the report, the prime minister’s official Jerusalem residence cost the taxpayers NIS 1.6m. in 2008 under Ehud Olmert.
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement that began by quoting something that singer Arik Einstein, who died last week, said in a 1997 interview.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is being treated with gross injustice,” Einstein said at the time. “He is being harassed and I am simply shocked by the degree of contempt and hatred toward him. How much is it possible to suck his blood, or how far is it possible to go into his inner chambers?”
The PMO’s statement then went on to explain that the water bill in Caesarea covered the years 2009-2011 and also included the water bill for the security detail there around the clock. It also pointed out that the Jerusalem residence is used throughout the year in an official capacity, and is used to host delegations, heads of states and as the site for numerous other consultations.