Netanyahu Lives Modestly, Says Lawyer

YERUSHALAYIM -

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s attorney defended his client against allegations that he indulges in a lavish lifestyle at public expense, saying that he lives modestly and works around the clock, Arutz Sheva reported on Sunday.

“The Netanyahus do not live an extravagant life,” attorney Yossi Cohen told reporters. “Come to the prime minister’s home and see the modesty and the rust.”

His comments came after the release of figures last week showing that the budget of the prime minister’s residence has risen by 80 percent over four years, from 3 million shekels in 2009 to 5.4 million shekels by 2012.

A bed installed in the PM’s plane at a cost of 500,000 shekels in particular excited indignation and was immediately ordered removed as a result.

Cohen did not deny that expenditures at the prime minister’s residence have increased, but he explained the reason for it.

“This house is no ordinary house,” he said. “In fact, much of this house serves as an office and as a place to receive guests. There is a lot of activity going on in this house. More than once I was there at 10:00 p.m. and saw the prime minister coming into the office and sitting and working until 11:00.”

Explaining the jump in the budget, Cohen said, “First of all, the work being done at the prime minister’s residence has grown immensely. This is the most difficult job in the world. Heads of the Mossad, defense officials, ministers, presidents and prime ministers are constantly visiting this house.”

Asked about the 118-percent surge in the cleaning budget, Cohen explained that the numbers include not only cleaning expenses.

“The so-called cleaning expenses include the expenses of all the employees and the food at the prime minister’s residence,” he said. “There was a time period when there was no cook, and food had to be ordered from outside. Due to this, there was an increase in amounts incurred.”

As for the expensive bed, Cohen claimed the reports were inaccurate and that “the bed on the plane was nothing more than plywood with a rubber mat.”

Meanwhile, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira is considering whether to launch an investigation into Netanyahu’s modest lifestyle. He’ll be consulting with his staff this week about whether government money has been misused, Globes reported.

Aside from the bed, Shapira intends to examine Netanyahu’s chauffeur’s part in the recent China trip. That’s because the chauffeur was not included in the list of administrative personnel who accompanied the Netanyahu family abroad.