The Netanyahu family (file)
The Netanyahu family (file) Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office (PMO) released its 2014 expense report on Thursday night, noting that expenditures are down 19% since 2013. 

The expense report did not include the security budget - but neither did the disastrous 2013 report which led to Netanyahu being branded in the media as a "big spender," according to Walla! News.

The PMO also stressed that the total expenditure in 2014 was lower by 35% than the budget approved in advance.


The report follows a very public hullaballoo over "bottlegate" in January, wherein Haaretzalleged that Sarah Netanyahu had exchanged empty bottles, purchased with public funds for the use of the Prime Minister's Residence, for cash amounting to over 4,000 shekels. 

The Prime Minister's Residence was also charged with spending some 88,964 shekels on alcohol in 2009-2010 in that report. 

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira announced at the time that the expenditure report of the Prime Minister's Residence would be published in coming weeks, and would include mention of any criminal misconduct. 

Weeks later, and amid the election campaign, the Netanyahus showed the media their decrepit, crumbling Prime Minister's Residence in an apparent attempt to prove that they were not stealing state money for their own benefit. 

And in 2013, Netanyahu was further criticized and ridiculed over his spending, including a double bed installed on the plane that flew him to London that year for the funeral of Britain's Margaret Thatcher on a trip that cost $127,000, along with reports that his family enjoyed a state-funded 10,000-shekel ($2,740) ice cream allowance, prompting him to cancel it.

Report not transparent?

Despite the good reports for 2014, Attorney Alona Winograd, director of the Freedom of Information Movement, claimed that the report's transparency was suspect. 

"On the surface, the Prime Minister's Office did good, they published the information proactively," Winograd alleged. "But whoever looks at the published report sees a more complex reality."

"The report details a single document, including overhead," she fired. "There are no details and no explanation." 

Winograd said previous reports included "an Excel spreadsheet of expenses by month."

"You cannot take what they chose to publish today from the PMO at face value, and it raises concern and suspicion [...] over the specific timing for publication of this document. "