After a six-year legal battle by The Movement for Freedom of Information, Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled that Israel’s prime ministers, including former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, must reveal to the public the expenses for their private homes and how they use taxpayer money. “It is crazy,” said The Movement for Freedom of Information in a statement, “but there is a limit.” They asked why no one at the State Attorney’s Office had flagged this in the past.
It should be stressed, however, that The Movement for Freedom of Information’s victory will likely not apply to Netanyahu. The former prime minister was able to hide the true extent of his expenses by blurring the boundary between money he paid for a home he owns with money he paid towards the Prime Minister’s Residence without any oversight. The Supreme Court’s ruling will help prevent such impunity by future prime ministers.
The Movement for Freedom of Information Executive Director Racheli Edri said, “We are looking ahead to the new authorities and calling on them to work according to the requirements and standards acceptable worldwide and to work with greater transparency, and the court in its ruling supports and understands the importance of public reporting and oversight. And in this spirit, it would be good if the current and alternate prime ministers report of their own volition and in detail about their expenses from public money, and strive for clear separation between public and private expenses. That public money should be sacred. If we are talking about a government of change, it is also the time to change this.”