Itzik relieved at comptroller report

Lindenstrauss clears former Knesset speaker of suspicions.

Dalia Itzik  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Dalia Itzik
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Kadima MK Dalia Itzik told The Jerusalem Post that she felt relieved by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstraus's decision to clear her of wrongdoing in his report that was published Tuesday.
In investigations last year by Israel 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 while Moshe Katsav had suspended himself.
Lindenstraus wrote that Itzik had acted properly and had not misused public funds. He suggested that the policies she had instituted about how to handle the Knesset's finances were more transparent than those of her predecessor, successor, and arch rival, 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. Thelesson 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 against her 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 health."
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 reflooring but said that the regulations dealing with the expenses that were to be 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 reflooring after she completed her term of office, to "put an end to wagging tongues" as she said. Lindenstrauss said the return of the money brought the affair to an end.
Meir Gilboa, an investigator in the state comptroller's office, reportedly distanced himself from Lindenstraus's findings and sent him a letter accusing him of whitewashing charges against Itzik.

(With reporting by Dan Izenberg)