“Average expenditure on wine at the prime minister’s home in 2013-14 was one bottle per day,” the Prime Minister’s Office states.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara were under attack at the weekend in the bottle recycling affair. In the affair, exposed last week by “Haaretz”, Sara Netanyahu is alleged to have pocketed the deposits on bottles of beverages bought with state money, when they were returned for recycling. The Attorney General and the State Comptroller have exchanged accusations over the legal treatment of the affair. For his part, Netanyahu claims that it amounts to an attempt by the press and media to remove an elected prime minister.
After the sums spent at the state’s expense on beverages, mostly alcoholic, were revealed last week, the Prime Minister’s Office stated last night that the Netanyahus bought only one bottle of wine per day on average.
“An examination by the financial controller at the Prime Minister’s Office shows that the average expenditure on wine at the prime minister’s residence in 2013-2014 amounts to one bottle of wine per day costing tens of shekels, including consumption for routine hospitality at the residence. This figure is based on an examination of the years 2013-2014, for which it is possible to break down expenditure according to non-alcoholic beverages and wines, because in that period an additional supplier was engaged to supply non-alcoholic beverages only,” the statement said.
Nir Hefetz, head of public relations for the Likud party and formerly the personal spokesman for Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu, responded to the allegations in the affair yesterday evening in a television interview. “Mrs. Netanyahu, at her own initiative, without being asked to do so, decided to return the money after years in which bottles in the house went for recycling and the deposits were put into petty cash,” Hefetz said, “This is a political story put about by the left and intended to bring down a prime minister in the State of Israel.”
According to documents that reached Channel 2 News, the Prime Minister’s Office purchased alcoholic beverages from two suppliers. At the end of 2010, over a period of three months, NIS 50,000 were spent on beverages, and in another, partially overlapping period, there was further expenditure of NIS 25,000. Additional documentation shows a similar sum spent over a period of one year and five months. According to this documentation alone, beverages were bought to the tune of NIS 100,000 in a period of two years. It follows that there were many bottles in the prime minister’s home for recycling, only the money for them should have been repaid to the state.
“Bibi takes a lot of wine for his events,” one of the suppliers said, “They would receive a budget of NIS 25,000, and then buy some each time until the amount was used up.”