State Comptroller Joseph Shapira 370.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The good-governance NGO Ometz this week sent a letter to State Comptroller
Joseph Shapira requesting that he publish his much-followed ‘Bibi-Tours’ report
regarding Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s allegedly problematic flights
funded by wealthy associates from late 1990s to the early 2000s.
watchdog’s letter to Shapira came after the Movement for the Quality of
Government in Israel requested that Shapira investigate the “Bed-gate” scandal,
also connected to Netanyahu’s alleged penchant for overdone luxurious
While the two stories overlap thematically, the Bibi Tours Affair
is from a year ago and involves allegations of unethical conduct, whereas
“Bed-gate” relates to Netanyahu’s recent flights as prime minister and is merely
a blackeye from a public relations perspective during a time when the state is
swamped with talk of budget cuts.
Following an exposé on how much
Netanyahu’s double bed cost on his recent flight to London, he announced on
Saturday night that he would no longer ask that a double bed be installed on his
plane during short trips such as to Europe.
On Friday night, Channel 10
reported that for Netanyahu’s flight to the United Kingdom for Margaret
Thatcher’s funeral last month, the Prime Minister’s Office had requested that a
double bed be installed, costing taxpayers $127,000.
The Prime Minister’s
Office reacted to the exposé, saying that Netanyahu was not aware of the
decision to install a bed for that flight. Nevertheless, immediately following
the report, the office released a detailed explanation of why it was decided he
should have the bed.
Sources close to the prime minister said, “It is
important that he sleeps well in order to comply with complex tasks, but it’s
possible to do so at a much lower cost, and this is what will be
Two other airlines, Israir and Arkia, could have been used for the
flight at a far cheaper cost of around $300,000 (versus the $427,000 cost of the
El Al flight), but were eliminated from any real chance of running the flight as
they did not have sufficient space on board to accommodate a double
The Bibi-Tours Affair has been on pause since February when
Netanyahu and 30 other ministers and deputy ministers reportedly submitted their
responses to a draft of the State Comptroller’s Report.
reportedly reviewed allegations of improper funding and double billing for
international trips Netanyahu and other top officials took.
Netanyahu the draft of the report at the end of December, Channel 2 reported at
In March 2011, Channel 10 investigative reporter Raviv Drucker
reported on his show, Hamakor, on a series of flights that Netanyahu took with
his wife, Sara, in the late 1990s and early 2000s – flights allegedly funded by
According to Drucker’s report, Netanyahu allegedly
used a carefully crafted network of such associates to finance private flights,
luxury hotel suites, first-class restaurants, and trips abroad for himself and
his family – benefits that the show characterized as ethical
In April 2011, Drucker made additional allegations on his
show, alleging that on two occasions before he became prime minister, Netanyahu
billed different organizations for the same flight.Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.