Daily Israel Report

Bibi Investment Portfolio Move Sign of Iran Attack?

Prime Minister asked for permission to make changes in his personal investments – prompting speculation.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/28/2012, 12:55 PM

Netanyahu reviews 2011
Netanyahu reviews 2011
Israel news photo screenshot

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has come under political and media sniping in recent days after it became known that he asked the State Comptroller's Office for permission to make changes in his personal investment portfolio. The Opposition Chairman went so far as to speculate that Netanyahu wants to change his investments so that he can lose less, or gain more, when he orders an attack against Iran's nuclear weapons facilities.

Prime Ministers in Israel are only allowed to give instructions for the handling of their investment portfolio when they enter office, out of concern that their insider knowledge and influence on world events could cause conflicts of interest. Tweaking the investment profile during the term of office requires special permission, which Netanyahu asked for.

While the Comptroller agreed to grant Netanyahu permission to change his investments, Netanyahu subsequently gave up on the idea when critical voices began to be heard.

According to IDF Radio, MK Yariv Levin (Likud) said that the original request was a legitimate one, in view of the fact that Netanyahu's government has been in place for almost four years – a rare occurrence in Israeli politics, where governments usually do not reach the age of three.

"The State Comptroller determined clearly that in view of the government's long term in office, updating the instructions to investment managers is a reasonable thing, but it was the prime minister who decided not to make use of this right," he said. "In view of this, the opposition's attempt to attack the prime minster is ridiculous…"

Analyst Yaniv Pagot of the Ayalon Group speculated on IDF Radio that Netanyahu was considering the situation in Europe rather than the one in Iran, when asking for permission to tweak his portfolio. "We think the negative developments in the euro bloc, which are bringing it to a critical and decisive juncture in recent months, were a central element in the prime minister's considerations for a redistribution of assets."

"Netanyahu's step is strange and it holds more than a clue about his intentions," said Opposition Head MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima). "Netanyahu's behavior shows that he is aware of the tremendous risks to the security of the state and its citizens and the danger that Israel's economy will collapse because of a hurried, unnecessary, unbalanced decision… regarding an independent Israeli attack in Iran."