The State Comptroller's Office denied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
request to spend NIS 80,000 (about $21,000) on party for some 50 coalition members and their partners – all at the taxpayers' expense.
and his wife Sara invited the coalition members to their official residence in Jerusalem
Thursday evening for a lavish, 400 shekels per plate (about $100) soiree, but just a few hours before the party began, Likud officials asked State Comptroller Joseph Shapira's office to authorize the event, which was paid for with public funds allocated to the ruling Likud
The comptroller was livid and explained that Netanyahu and his wife had two options: Pay for the party themselves or ask the coalition members to chip in.
"How can you spend so much money when people on the street don’t have anything to eat?" asked Nurit Israeli, legal advisor to the comptroller's office.
In response, the Prime Minister's Office informed Shapira that the cost of the party would be reduced to NIS 25,000 (roughly $6,400), but the comptroller's office was still not satisfied. Eventually the coalition members had to make due with appetizers, although the catering was provided by the fancy Jerusalem restaurant Canela, a favorite of the Netanyahus.
No dinner? Group photo at PM's Residence (Photo: Itzik Biran)
The Likud party said the "holiday toast at the PM's Residence was held in accordance with the guidelines of the state comptroller's office."
Some of the MKs and ministers on hand complained that a full dinner was not served, and Netanyahu joked that "it's part of the cutbacks."
During the event, Netanyahu said the coalition was "solid," adding "we are experiencing the most severe global economic crisis in 83 years, as well as a shake-up in the Middle East
the likes of which we have not seen in 90 years. But amid this turmoil, we are an island of stability. To maintain this stability we must pass a responsible budget."
Addressing his upcoming address to the UN
General Assembly, the premier said "I will go to the UN in order to tell the truth."
Itamar Eichner contributed to the report