Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's finances are under scrutiny once again, weeks after Israelis were scandalized to discover that he and his wife Sara had run up thousands of shekels of bills on candles, flowers, and maintenance at their private home in Caesarea – much of which was paid from public coffers.
Now the Ministerial Committee for Legislation will meet on Sunday to discuss a bill proposal on banning the use of public funds for the prime minister's private expenses.
This bill poses a dilemma for ministers. While they do not wish to take any steps that would pit them against Netanyahu, they are also wary of a likely public outcry if they shelve the bill.
The proposed legislation would ban elected officials from using their publicly-funded allowance to pay for private expenses, with the exception of security and maintenance.
The Netanyahus total expenses at their private home in the exclusive coastal town came to some 80,000 shekels ($22,000), and included 6,000 shekels ($1,700) on scented candles and 10,000 shekels ($2,800) on ice cream. There was also outrage over the installation of a bed on a plane used to take the couple to Margaret Thatcher's funeral in London – a five-hour flight from Israel.
Labor MK Mickey Rosenthal, who drafted the bill, says the proposed legislation is primarily aimed at ending the use of public funds to foot the bill for politicians' private expenses. But, he says, another aim is to draw a line between private costs such as food, make up and clothing, and public costs such as hosting foreign dignitaries and security.
Itamar Eichner contributed to this report