Netanyahu ready to downplay comptroller's report on public funds

PM set to take defense, to accuse comptroller of making mistakes and withholding opportunity to respond to findings.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 16, 2015 22:23
2 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

 
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared Monday for the release of Tuesday’s controversial report by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira on how taxpayer funds have been spent at his official residence in Jerusalem.

His associates said Netanyahu is ready to answer questions raised in the report, which cannot be published until Tuesday at 4 p.m. The Likud appointed a team to respond to the report in the media led by ministers, MKs, lawyer David Shimron, and former Northern District police commander Ya’acov Barovsky, who used to work at the State Comptroller’s Office.

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One of the major arguments the Likud intends to use is that no standards have been set for how official residences should be run. The Likud would support passing laws setting such guidelines.

Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu would accuse the comptroller of making mistakes in key sections of his report and not giving him a chance to respond to important findings, a violation of protocol.

Netanyahu’s political opponents also prepared Monday for the report, reading it to know how to attack the prime minister.

“The prime minister of Israel acted out of greed to take taxpayer money to fund his exorbitant personal expenses,” Labor MK Miki Rosenthal said after reading it. “For Netanyahu, the public’s money is meant to satisfy the hedonistic and wasteful lifestyle of him and his family.”

Rosenthal lashed out at the Netanyahu family for inviting an interior designer to film a video at their residence, in which Sara Netanyahu showed the deteriorating state of the home.

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“The video was intended to mislead the public,” Rosenthal said. “The report does not deal with the physical state of theprime minister’s official residence, but with the way Bibi shamefully used public funds for his personal caprice.”

During the tour, Sara Netanyahu and celebrity interior designer Moshik Galamin pointed out sticking doors, broken lights, and curtains with stains on them. At one point, Netanyahu’s wife said that instead of buying new flowers, they dried old ones and keep them on the piano in order to save money.

She pointed out that the residence is in need of many small repairs that the prime ministerial couple had forgone. The video was apparently meant to dispel the impression that the Netanyahus live in wasteful luxury.

Former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said Monday that the video clip breached security protocol by revealing details of the interior of the prime minister’s Jerusalem home. The frequent critic of Netanyahu said, “The filming in the Prime Minister’s Residence is a grave security breach.”

Diskin said that the Netanyahus’ “panic” at the pending comptroller report had made them forget the very real security threats against the first family.

Labor MK Itzik Shmuli responded to Sara Netanyahu’s video by posting a video of his own small apartment in Lod.

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