Ethics Committee reprimands Netanyahu over London trip

The Knesset Ethics Committee reprimanded opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu during a closed-door meeting Tuesday during which they discussed the Likud chairman's summer 2006 trip to London. Following a series of exposés that claimed ethical irregularities in funding for the trip, made during the height of the Second Lebanon War, the Labor's Young Guard submitted a complaint against Netanyahu to the committee. The complaint stated that Netanyahu traveled to London as a representative of the Knesset for the purpose in engaging in pro-Israel advocacy, and that while on the trip, Netanyahu and his wife Sara stayed in an expensive hotel and ran up large bills, some of which, claimed the complaint, were bankrolled by the government. Netanyahu had argued that regarding receiving permission prior to his trip, he had assumed that his office had filed the necessary request for Ethics Committee approval of receiving external funding of the trip. Only afterwards, he said, he realized that they had submitted requests to the Knesset Foreign Relations Department and not to the Ethics Committee. Although the committee ruled that Netanyahu's behavior in this respect was merely an "administrative error", they took pains to remind MKs that all trips overseas receiving any external funding require the committee's approval.