Lindenstrauss to probe complaints that PM was unethical

Initial examination to be carried out by state comptroller into claims that Netanyahu's family flew on donors' private jets without paying a shekel.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 24, 2011 19:22
3 minute read.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss

311_Micha Lindenstrauss. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss will carry out an initial examination into a number of complaints received claiming that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu behaved unethically and utilized a carefully crafted network of wealthy associates to finance private flights.

MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima) was among those who registered an official complaint with the police on Thursday regarding information that was broadcast on "Makor," a Channel 10 investigative reporting program.

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"The information publicized is serious and appears to be against the laws of the State of Israel," Molla said. "These include bribes, fraud and breach of trust."

"Since this is the prime minister, it is important that this dark cloud be cleared by the police," he explained. "Therefore, I complained, and I hope that the police will investigate the complaint as quickly as possible so we can reach the necessary conclusions."

Kadima requested on Thursday that Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein investigate Netanyahu. A letter the party's legal adviser, Eitan Haberman, wrote to Weinstein says that "it seems that Mr. Netanyahu and his wife's behavior, as seen in the report...requires the opening of an investigation due to the criminal and ethical implications, acceptance of personal benefits and conflicts of interest, create a suspicion that he has been methodically committing crimes over a long time, with a lot of money, using private and private individuals and organizations, while hiding information."

The Likud called Kadima's call for an investigation "ridiculous."



"It is ridiculous that Kadima, who came up with the concept of 'double funding' for trips, is criticizing the prime minister for his behavior," a statement released by the party read. "Unlike Kadima, where many members like Olmert, Hanegbi, Hirschzon, Ramon, Lachiani, Gilad and Omri Sharon all have police records, Prime Minister Netnayahu is completely clean after decades of public service."

According to "Makor," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu utilized a carefully crafted network of wealthy associates to finance private flights, luxury hotel suites, first-class restaurants, and trips abroad for him and his family.

Netanyahu worked diligently after his first term as prime minister ended in 1999 to build a cohort of wealthy associates, which often subsidized completely the Netanyahu family's outings abroad, the report said.

As early as July 2002, Netanyahu was flying at the expense of British colleague Spencer Partridge and his personal jet, the report said based on readings of Netanyahu's phone book from the same period. Though Spencer did not donate money to Netanyahu's cause, Netanyahu noted that Spencer was "rich" and paid for his "air taxi."

For a Bonds organization lecture, Netanyahu received payment though, according to an organization aid, the contribution did not come anywhere close to "donations" Netanyahu received as a lecturer at the organization events.

Flights on Spencer's private jet were a common occurrence, the investigation claims, and were also legitimate for Netanyahu in the time period when Netanyahu left politics and engaged in citizen life. His attendance as a lecturer abroad, where he brought his wife and children all-expenses-paid, also occurred in different circumstances. Such engagements are permissible ethically as a citizen. However, by November 2002, Netanyahu was back and politics, and it was from this time period on that his personal travel ethics became more sketchy.

According to the report, the problem is not that Netanyahu broke specific rules, but rather that he seemed to act on his own code of conduct, flying his aids and family on first-class flights, and treating them to luxury hotels, fancy cars, personal assistants, entertainment, and five-star restaurant, and never on his own tab.

Investigating 16 different trips Netanyahu made as prime mister and minister of Knesset, the report found nearly 30 alleged ethical infractions. Though the prime minister and his wife may legally fly on state money, the problem the report claims remains is Netanyahu's external relationship with donors who often contribute personally to Netanyahu's cause.

The real question, according to Channel 10, remains how Netanyahu, serving the last decade mostly in politics, was able to become so wealthy, with a house in Caesarea and Jerusalem. The report does not doubt that the current prime minister worked very hard to create an environment where he, his wife, family, children, and aids, can benefit from the affluent connections Netanyahu procured through much hard work, and travel.

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