Dalia Itzik .
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Kadima MK Dalia Itzik told The Jerusalem Post
that she felt relieved by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s
decision to clear her of wrongdoing in his report, which was published
In investigations last year by Yisrael Hayom
reporter Moti Gilat and Channel 2’s Amit Segal, Itzik was accused of
misusing public funds during her term as Knesset speaker and in the
months that she served as interim president after Moshe Katsav
Lindenstrauss wrote that Itzik had acted properly and had not misused
public funds. He suggested that the policies she had instituted
regarding how to handle the Knesset’s finances were more transparent
than those of her predecessor, successor and archrival, Reuven Rivlin.
“I went through an extremely difficult time following the
investigation, but I always knew the facts were on my side,” Itzik
said. “I am glad that the comptroller set the record straight. The
lesson is that public figures have to be treated with respect and
investigations must be handled more carefully.”
Itzik said she did not believe the investigation would have been an
obstacle to her expected run for president against Rivlin in 2014,
because she believed she would be cleared of all the allegations long
before the race.
But regarding the race for president, she said, “I am not dealing with
this right now. We have a wonderful president, and I wish him good
The report also cleared the former head of the Knesset administration, Avi Balashnikov.
The state comptroller investigated 17 complaints submitted by a former
Knesset employee, Aryeh Sharbaf, against Balashnikov. One of the
complaints involved the fact that the Knesset had paid Itzik NIS 25,000
to buy tiles and install a new floor in her home, which also served as
an official state residence in her capacity as Knesset speaker.
Lindenstrauss concluded that the Knesset should not have paid for the
re-flooring, but said the regulations dealing with the expenses covered
by the Knesset for a speaker who used her own home as an official state
residence were unclear and could easily be misinterpreted.
Furthermore, Itzik returned the money for the re-flooring after she
completed her term in office, to “put an end to wagging tongues,” as
she put it. Lindenstrauss said the return of the money brought the
affair to an end.
The Knesset administration emphasized that it “did not wait until the
report was published, and launched an in-depth examination into each
one of the issues that were raised in the report, and already began to
fix the problems as soon as they received the first draft of the
Lindenstrauss’s conclusions on the Itzik affair led to the resignation
of the head of the anti-corruption unit in the State Comptroller’s
Office, Meir Gilboa, who had conducted the investigation but refused to
sign the final draft of the report.
Gilboa said the facts uncovered during the investigation warranted a
“more severe” report against Itzik and other senior Knesset officials.
“All the evidence that my team and I possessed regarding Itzik’s
apartment indicated unequivocally different conclusions than those that
were in the report that was published today,” he told the Post
“I wish to emphasize that this was not a matter of interpretation, but
a matter of fact. Since I left the State Comptroller’s Office before
the report was completed, I do not know if additional evidence reached
the office that may have justified the change. In any case, I do not
question the exclusive authority of the state comptroller to reach
decisions regarding his reports.”
Lindenstrauss’s office issued a statement in response, saying Gilboa
had resigned while the investigation was still ongoing and was not
privy to the facts uncovered in its later stages.
“A substantial number of facts in the complex investigation were not known to Gilboa,” the statement said.
In the shadow of the report, Rivlin announced Tuesday evening that he
would cancel the practice of the subsidized apartment for Knesset
speakers. Rivlin reiterated the statements he had made earlier when the
report was presented, that a distinction must be enforced as much as
possible between the private apartment of a Knesset speaker and his or
her official quarters, and any mixing of private property and public
property should be prevented. Rivlin said that the current practice,
which dates from 2000, would be completely canceled.
Rivlin’s office emphasized that upon taking office, the speaker had
already nullified the more generous 2007 practice, returning to the
more limited practice from 2000. The only budget that will remain
provides for security expenses for the speaker’s house and services
that the speaker can purchase from the Knesset.
Dan Izenberg and Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report.