Benjamin Netanyahu's driver joined the prime minister and his wife Sara on their official visit to China this week, at the taxpayers' expense, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.
Eli Iluz has served as the PM's driver for nearly 20 years and is considered very close to the Netanyahu family. Netanyahu even promoted him to the post of "head of the drivers' division" in the Prime Minister's Office.
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The decision to take Iluz to China as part of the PM's entourage "appears odd," Yedioth reported, "As he did not serve as a driver there, because local drivers were assigned to Netanyahu's entourage." Sources who took part in the trip said that instead of driving, Iluz carried Netanyahu and his wife's luggage and served as the couple's "adjutant." Sources within the PM's Office said Iluz was taken to China as a "fringe benefit."
But the driver's trip cost the taxpayers' thousands of dollars. Netanyahu was criticized over his bloated entourage, which included five spokespeople and another five aides, at a time of sharp budget cuts.
The PM's Office said in a statement that an administrative employee accompanies Netanyahu on his trips abroad to "assist in logistics and administrative work. Each time a different administrative employee joins the PM on his trips abroad."
Iluz has accompanied Netanyahu on a number of other trips abroad, including to Washington, although he did not serve as a driver on these trips either.
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