Netanyahu with wife Sara
Photo: GPO

Kadima: Probe Netanyahu for flights

Opposition demands probe after Channel 10 reports PM's trips abroad were funded by business tycoons

The Kadima opposition party appealed to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein Thursday demanding an investigation against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the claim that he flew abroad a number of times at the expense of business tycoons in the period between his first and second terms leading the state.


Netanyahu's alleged breach of Knesset ethics was revealed by a Channel 10 investigative report, based on the prime minister's flight log between his two terms.


Dozens of trips appear to have been financed by Jewish donors with an interest in proximity to Israel's former finance minister and probable pick for the country's next leader.


Kadima asked Weinstein to probe "the criminal, tax, and ethical aspects" of Netanyahu's alleged violations, "which formulate a suspicion of crimes committed continuously over a long period of time at a vast expense and through use of private and public persons and organizations, all while concealing information".


In 2004 and 2005, while Netanyahu was serving as finance minister, he traveled to the US three times to visit the Enterprise Research Institute and Israel Bonds. His wife, Sara, joined him on these occasions, at a cost of $28,500 financed by private organizations.


The CEO of Bonds, one of the world's leading fundraising organizations for Israel, is Joshua Matza, who served as a minister in Netanyahu's first government. In July 2005 he funded a family trip for the Netanyahus, at a cost of $27,000.


Other businessmen Channel 10's report lists as financiers of Netanyahu's trips include Jewish-Canadian businessman Marc Belzberg and haredi singer Dadi Graucher, who paid Netanyahu $50,000 to speak at an event.


Netanyahu's address book lists the various donors by name and relationship. Of Arnon Milchan, for example, he wrote, "Friend. Producer (Pretty Woman). Donor." Milchan gave Netanyahu use of his private plane. Bart Sugarman "lives in California. Wealthy. Must call him from time to time to keep in touch."


Beauty parlors and dry cleaning

Sara Netanyahu, according to the report, spent her free time abroad frequenting beauty parlors and fancy hotels at the expense of these various sponsors. On a trip to London in 2006, for example, the couple racked up a bill of almost $600 on dry cleaning.


Even before Kadima handed its appeal to the attorney general, party member MK Yoel Hasson announced he would ask Weinstein to "begin an immediate investigation of Netanyahu's serious and ongoing violations in what appears to be one of the worst affairs we've seen".


The Prime Minister's Office responded to the report by saying it was "full of mendacious slander" and claiming that the journalist, Raviv Druker, has a personal vendetta against Netanyahu and his family.


"You do not hesitate to libel Mr. Netanyahu, who has faithfully defended the State of Israel at forums around the world hundreds of times, many times voluntarily as a civilian, and raised funds for dozens organizations working for the benefit of Israel's citizens," the office said in a statement.


The statement also denies any wrongdoing on the prime minister's part during the time he served in public office. Sara accompanied her husband "once in a while," it adds, in a legal manner.



פרסום ראשון: 03.24.11, 11:05
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