Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has said that from now on he will pay for his family’s food expenses from his own money.
Bennett was criticized after a television report talked about lavish expenses in his private home, which he took as his headquarters.
Then he revealed that $26,400 of public money is spent per month, including $7,400 on food.
Bennett, a self-made millionaire, insisted that he acted within the limits of the law.
The BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent Yolande Niel said that there were often reports in the Israeli media of lavish expenditures on restaurant orders and hairstyles when Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister.
She says Bennett, who sparked controversy by deciding to work from his home on the outskirts of Tel Aviv last June, tried to paint an image of himself as different from his predecessor.
However, the Channel 13 TV report stated that the Prime Minister’s House was spending huge sums of public money on cleaning workers and on prepared food.
Bennett defended himself in a Facebook post saying that these expenses had fallen “by a large percentage” and that “trying to paint a picture of me being extravagant is ridiculous.”
He said that his family of six people did not hire a chef, as is the right of prime ministers, and instead order meals from restaurants.
He claimed that the Netanyahu family was spending $11,100 a month on food.
Netanyahu’s Likud party responded that the food bill was spent by the Bennett family only on “private matters” because his home does not host official events.
He added that the Netanyahu family’s food order bill did not exceed $400 per month.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister accepted public criticism, and announced that he had decided to spend on his family from his own money.
“Although we acted within the limits of applicable rules, I understand people’s sentiments, and I have therefore announced to users in my office that my family’s food expenses will be at my own expense,” he said in his statement.
He added, “I am not in this job for the sake of money or prestige, but to serve the citizens of Israel with all my strength, and I will continue in this way.”
Bennett sold two high-tech companies for $250 million before entering politics. He receives a salary of $16,500 per month, while the average wage in Israel is $3,400 per month.
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