The State Comptroller (government auditor) has finally issued his long delayed report. The results do not add to the reputation of the Prime Minister, his spouse, or Israeli media.
We're being inundated with an over abundance of small details about the larger picture we've know for years. The Netanyahus have been living high on the hog in two palatial residences, one public and one private, both financed by the public treasury. Excessive amounts spent on food, drink, facilities, clothes, and personal care (hair stylists for her and him), and an electrician whose employment violated the rules about working in both public and private buildings, as well as being a Likud party activist. The report mentions possible criminal charges with respect to moneys received from returned bottles, and the use at the private residence of furniture purchased for the official residence .
The State Comptroller's report also documents an increase in the extravagance of the Presidential Residence during the term of Shimon Peres. However, Peres is not on the ballot, his late wife never was a public figure, and the attention paid to those details are a small fraction of what we are hearing about the Netanyahus.
The Netanyahus have retaliated with claims that it is all the fault of the house manager and/or his aide, who made the wrong decisions. The manager is one of the former employees who is suing the Netayahus for cruel and abusive treatment, and failure to pay him what is owed.
Sara has gone public with a video tour of the official residence given to a "celebrity interior designer" who expresses along with her in flowery language and theatrical gestures his amazement at pealing paint, water stains, doors that do not fit properly, a worn carpet, and the need for a general do-over of floor tiles, furnishings, electric connections and a total paint job. Release of the clip was timed to detract from the publication of the State Comptroller's report by asserting the run down nature of the building. It may do that for some viewers, but it has also earned its own barbs from critics. Was it proper for the interior designer to insert a mention of his business for hire? And his joke about a door behind which Anne Frank might be hiding earned high marks for poor taste in a country founded on the ashes of the Holocaust. Those with Hebrew skills might view the clip here.
Among all the other details is one tiny bit that can scuttle the ship. The State Comptroller reported that the Netanyahus had the electrician, a Jew, work on the Sabbath and Yom Kippur. The family is denying it, but there it is in the official report. The Jewish calendar being what it is, a record of work done on a certain date may be said to have been ordered and done after the end of a holy day on sundown.
How voters and politicians come to view that detail may end Bibi's career, either via a lost election or the refusal of Jewish Home and the ultra-Orthodox parties to join his coalition.
Or it may cost us all. If Bibi does well enough to create a coalition, he may have to persuade the religious parties of his piety, and pay them to view things correctly by increasing investments in settlements and religious academies, his willingness to accept ultra-Orthodox party demands about the recruitment of young men to the IDF, and Orthodox demands about procedures for converting those who want to become Jews.
Likudniks are telling us that none of this is significant, compared to the choice the voters are facing between a party capable of leading the country, and parties, especially those to the left, who deceive the people with empty promises, would make bad international agreements, and spend money that doesn't exist.
The web site of Israel Hayom features Sara's video about a sub-par residence, and Alan Dershowitz saying that if Iran gets a nuclear weapon Obama will be Chamberlain. The front page of the print edition headlines commentators who write that efforts to brainwash the public about the Netanyahus' corruption is the work of the enemy paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and that the whole thing is a tempest in a teapot that should be dealt with by a simple apology.
No surprise that opposition parties are upping their rhetoric against the Prime MInister and his personal failings. Ha'aretz charges that the State Comptroller and Attorney General tried to delay publication and treatment of scandalous behavior until after the election, and that the official report does not go far enough. A cartoon shows Sara scowling at the disgraced house manager, and telling him to show the State Comptroller the hole in the carpet.
The headline on the Yedioth Ahronoth web site is "Attorney General being tested: Will he order a criminal investigation?" Another headline quotes the house manager who is suing the Netanyahus and is now being accused of all the faults, "Mr and Mrs. Netayahu, Shame on you."
Yitzhak Herzog is pondering his response, worrying that criticism of Sara might boomerang as an improper attack on a politician's wife.
For the next few days it will be difficult to learn from the media updates on the Prime Minister's Washington trip, Russia, Europe, and Ukraine, negotiations with Iran, the latest beheadings by the ISIS and its sale of other body parts to people willing to pay for transplants. It seems that ISIS has medical personnel able to remove the parts properly, if not to put them into someone else.
We'll have to see the impact of the report, political defense, charges, and commentary on the next round of media polls, then a month later to see the fate of Likud, then another month or more while a half dozen or so parties, their spokespeople and critics argue in the media about participating in the government coalition, who gets what ministries and Knesset committee chairs, and the prospects of policy change.
And all that along with what the worthies and vicious of the world do between now and then to affect our concerns.