Matza fights against Lindenstrauss’s probe of PM’s UK trip

Israel Bonds head says state comptroller has no jurisdiction to probe the Development Corporation for Israel’s funding of PM's travels.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
April 4, 2011 03:43
1 minute read.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss

58_Micha Lindenstrauss. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))

 
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State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has no jurisdiction to probe the Development Corporation for Israel’s funding of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s travels, Israel Bonds President Yehoshua Matza said Sunday.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Matza emphasized that Lindenstrauss has no jurisdiction to investigate his organization, as it is registered in the United States and not Israel, and is thus subject to American, rather than Israeli, regulations. While he served as finance minister in July 2005, Netanyahu allegedly traveled together with his wife and children on a five-day visit to London, with $84,000 in travel expenses paid by Israel Bonds.

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Matza said that the funding for Netanyahu’s trip to Great Britain fit within the guidelines of the organization, and that the organization did not subsidize a family vacation for the Netanyahus. According to Matza, Netanyahu was flown to London to speak on behalf of the organization that raises funds for major projects in Israel.

But Lindenstrauss was not the only threat facing the 60-year-old organization that has sold over $30 billion in State of Israel Bonds. Last week, MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) said that he would submit a bill to dissolve the organization, arguing that it was no longer necessary.

Sheetrit said that Netanyahu was far from the only politician who had been flown overseas by the organization. Records have shown that MKs and ministers from across the political spectrum have been hosted by the organization, in exchange for speaking in support of the bonds at fund-raising events.

Sheetrit argued that unlike when the organization was founded in 1951, Israel was now capable of enlisting its own monetary support overseas. In the past, Israel Bonds funds were used for massive infrastructure and development projects, including developing the Haifa, Ashdod and Eilat ports; the Hadera power plant; the national water carrier and establishing Ben-Gurion Airport.

In recent years, the Israel Bonds funds have been directed toward developing Israel’s hi-tech industry.

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The chances of the bill advancing, however, were not high – a similar initiative brought by Sheetrit in the past was quickly quashed by the government.

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