Politicians debated the significance of reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had an offshore account in Jersey, a tax haven, while he was finance minister.
"Netanyahu should run for prime minister of the Isle of Jersey, where he deposited his money in order to not pay taxes here," MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) said late Wednesday night. "That is the opposite of Zionism, love for the country and concern for its citizens."
According to Yacimovich, having an offshore bank account is "rude, lacking in transparency, modesty and sets a bad example."
The former Labor leader pointed out that Netanyahu held the account in years when he cut welfare for the elderly and the education budget.
"There is a massive gap between Netanyahu's behavioral norms and lifestyle and the public he's supposed to represent," she added.
On Thursday, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud Beytenu) defended Netanyahu, saying he has the right to manage his finances like any other citizen.
"Attempts to present holding a totally legal bank account abroad as problematic misrepresents the truth and looks like personal persecution," Hotovely stated.
On Wednesday, Globes reported that in the years following Netanyahu's first term as prime minister,
while he was paid for giving lectures around the world, he held an account in the Royal Bank of Scotland in Jersey.
Off-shore bank accounts are legal, as long as they are reported to the tax authorities.
However, by opening an account in a tax haven, Netanyahu avoided his own tax reform, enacted while he was Finance Minister and the tax authority to which Netanyahu had to report the account was his ministerial responsibility.
The account in Jersey was also used while Netanyahu was Foreign Minister.
The Global Financial Centers Index ranked Jersey as the top tax haven in the world in 2010.
The Prime Minister's Office responded to Globes that its "attempt to discredit Prime Minister Netanyahu do not match the facts."
"The account is not active since 2003. In 1999, after he finished his first term as prime minister, Netanyahu made an investment that did not give him any advantage over the taxes in Israel. The accounts and deposits were reported in full to the authorities in Israel, including the Israeli tax authorities, and was included in his declaration of wealth," the PMO added.
Yacimovich on PM's offshore account: He should run for prime minister of Jersey.
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