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A Pricey In-Flight Bed Gives Netanyahu Political Nightmare

Mon, May 13, 2013 9:41pm

Story by Emily Harris


First it was ice cream, now a good night's sleep.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing criticism for spending $127,000 of public money to outfit an El Al jet with a double bed plus a wall around it so he and his wife could rest well (and privately) on a flight to London last month. The couple was attending the funeral of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

A commentator for Israeli's biggest-selling daily paper, Yedioth Ahronoth, called Netanyahu a king, with this front page headline: "Where Is The Shame?"

Israeli media quoted Netanyahu's office as saying he needed to be fresh for meetings with world leaders after the funeral, and he was unaware of the cost.

It's a bad time for Israeli public officials to splurge: The Cabinet is debating a budget that would cut about a billion dollars from Israel's defense budget. This weekend thousands of people protested proposed social cuts in the budget as well.

The ice cream scandal earlier this year was on a smaller scale, but perhaps more flavorful (pistachio in particular). In February, the public learned they were footing the bill for $2,700 per year worth of ice cream, some 25 pounds a month, to be delivered to the prime minister's home. Netanyahu put that contract into deep freeze as soon as it became public. He's likely hoping this latest controversy heads into deep sleep soon.

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