President Defends Netanyahu's Travels
Peres asks: avoid character assassination of prime minister's wife, children.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/3/2011, 8:12 PM / Last Update: 4/3/2011, 9:18 PM
President Shimon Peres came to the aid of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday, as the press continued to attack Netanyahu in recent days over allegedly luxuriously expensive travels abroad with his wife Sarah.
"In the State of Israel, we should implement a uniform procedure to regulate the travels abroad by senior civil servants and heads of state," Peres suggested. "There has to be a single obligatory standard for all of them and there should not be double standards toward the prime minister. In criticism, too, one needs to be careful and avoid character assassination, not just of the prime minister but also - and especially so - of his family, wife and children."
"I say this because heads of state are obliged to visit the outlying communities of the Jewish people and to appear before foreign governments that are subjected to pressure against Israel," Peres explained.
He spoke as he was about to depart from Israel for a visit to the United States, where he will meet his American counterpart, Barack Obama.
The Likud faction fired back at the accusations against Netanyahu and his wife by exposing the list of forays abroad made by MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima). Hasson, who chairs the State Control Committee in the Knesset, is a key player in the current inquiry into Netanyahu's travels.
Data published by the Likud show that Hasson was outside Israel for 60 days in the current Knesset term, and for 87 days in the 17th Knesset.
"The frequent flier Yoel Hasson has enjoyed dozens of trips paid for by bodies and organizations," the Likud stated. "In the past two Knesset terms he has been abroad for over six months [sic], as if he were foreign minister."
Travel outside of Israel has been considered a perk for Israelis since the early days of the State of Israel, when Israel was very poor and travel abroad meant a taste of luxury. It still retains a glamorous side in the eyes of many.