Israeli Prime Minister's Office declines request to publish 2015 receipts

The Prime Minister's Office declined the request from the Movement for Freedom of Information to publish the receipts detailing the expenses of the Prime Minister's residence. According to the Prime Minister’s Office, such a publication would damage the Benjamin Netanyahu’s privacy and harm the efficiency of the office's employees. However, the office did release the sum of the expenses compared to previous years.
Netanyahu Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom, Government Press Office / Channel 2 News

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office published today (Sunday) its answer to the request submitted by the Movement for Freedom of Information to release the 2015 expenses of the Prime Minister's residence. The Prime Minister's Office released the total of the residence’s expenses but chose to not comply with the request to provide the tax the receipt for each purchase.

The Prime Minister's Office claimed that by law, it is permitted to decline a request from the Movement for Freedom of Information if accommodating the request "demands an unreasonable allocation of resources." Furthermore, the Prime Minister's Office explained that it refuses to release that information in fear of harming national security as well as damaging the privacy of the Prime Minister and his family.

Netanyahu's residence Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

The Prime Minister's Office elaborated on the subject, explaining that last year when it responded to the requests of the Movement for Freedom on Information, it required over 200 work hours to gather all the receipts. According to the Prime Minister's Office, diverting resources to this task will cause staff members to neglect other duties for the sake of this one.

The Prime Minister's Office stated in response: "Indeed, the expenses of the Prime Minister's residence are funded by taxpayer money and there's an importance that the public will receive the information of these expenses in a way that allows any needed criticism. However, after considering the matter and weighing the public interest in releasing this information and the administrative efficiency of the office, we believe that publishing the chart that totals the expenses is an adequate answer to the public's interest."

Top to bottom: Maintenance, Operations, Food, Cleaning, Gardening, Furnishing, Private Residence, Total Photo Credit: Channel 2 News

The Movement for Freedom of Information released the following response: "Expenses and receipts aren't information that should be gathered only upon request. The use of taxpayer money must be organized, well documented and always accessible. It is clear that some thought or at least time was put into the Prime Minister's Office response to the request to publish the expenses of the Prime Minister's residence from 2015. Maybe it would have been better if the Prime Minister's Office dedicated its time into organizing the information and properly managing its expenses."

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