Lindenstrauss: Decision on probe of PM trips this week

Steinitz backs Netanyahu against allegations that prime minister used donor money to fund vacations.

PM Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
PM Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said on Monday that he would decide by the end of the week whether to launch an investigation into Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “unethical” financing of foreign flights.
Lindenstrauss said that all the options need to examined.
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Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz also joined the debate over allegations that Netanyahu took advantage of foreign donors’ funding for flights abroad.
“I don’t know how much it cost, but Netanyahu carried out excellent work for the State of Israel,” Steinitz said. “The fact that his wife accompanied him only added to the trip.”
Last week, it was announced that Lindenstrauss would carry out an initial examination into a number of received complaints that Netanyahu had behaved unethically and utilized his personal contacts to finance flights abroad, among other things. The initial report on Netanyahu’s conduct was broadcast on Channel 10’s investigative reporting program Makor earlier last week.
Lindenstrauss will have to decide in the near future whether there is enough comprehensive evidence to open an investigation, Army Radio reported.
According to the Makor report, Netanyahu utilized a carefully crafted network of wealthy associates to finance private flights, luxury hotel suites, first-class restaurants, and trips abroad for him and his family. Netanyahu worked diligently after his first term as prime minister ended in 1999 to build that network of associates, which often completely subsidized the Netanyahu family’s outings abroad, the report said.
“There’s a problem with the state comptroller’s authority – he will find it difficult to carry out an independent review,” said Raviv Drucker, the journalist who exposed the affair, during an interview with Army Radio.
“Lindenstrauss can ask for documentation from the Knesset, but cannot raid the travel agencies of the foreign donors and obtain all the documents, for example,” he explained. “Only the police can do such a thing, and is the only body that can carry out an effective investigation – if it is decided that the issue deserves an investigation, of course.”