The Knesset has passed an amendment to an income tax law that exempts from taxes any payments, services and benefits from Israel’s state treasury to the prime minister, or to former prime ministers, that are connected to work they have done or do in their political role.
The bill, sponsored by MK Miki Zohar (Likud), passed with 50 MKs in support and 44 against. According to a statement released by the Knesset, hundreds of objections were raised to the bill.
In a statement released by the Knesset about the bill, Zohar said: “The prime minister has a [private] home in Caesarea, but in the end he does not have the financial means, relative to the salary he gets, to cover the upkeep of this house.”
Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) objected to the bill, saying in a statement, “Why does the public also need to pay for the water in Netanyahu’s pool… and why is [this exemption] more important and more urgent than raising old-age pensions? A quarter of the elderly live below the poverty line and we are forced to engage in additional benefits for the prime minister and his family. The agenda dictated by the Netanyahu government is a disgrace.”
“Not only will we continue to finance the private expenses of the Netanyahu family, but from now on we will also pay the taxes on the benefits they will receive,” he said. “The Netanyahu family refuses to pull out their wallet and insists on milking more and more from the public coffers.”
Netanyahu’s financial dealings have been the subject of intense public scrutiny and, at times, scathing criticism, amid reports of excessive use of state funds, including NIS 80,000 ($20,000) a year on water at his Caesarea home, a NIS 10,000 ($2,500) monthly budget for ice cream, and a five-hour flight for which he spent NIS 450,000 ($125,000) to have a bed installed in the plane.