Netanyahu found himself facing a public uproar yesterday after Channel 10 TV reported over the weekend that he had spent $127,000 (€97,809) in public funds on a special sleeping cabin for the five-hour flight to attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral last month.
Netanyahu’s office initially defended the decision, saying the prime minister had a busy schedule ahead of the flight and needed to be fresh for important meetings in Britain.
But following public criticism, officials close to Netanyahu said late Saturday that he had been unaware of the cost, and once informed, he ordered the bed be cancelled on all future flights.
The uproar comes at a delicate time. Netanyahu’s government is in the process of drawing up a budget expected to include painful austerity measures and tax increases due to a widening deficit.
On Saturday night, several thousand people took to the streets in Tel Aviv and other cities to protest the expected budget cuts.
Micky Rosenthal of the opposition Labour Party called for an inquiry into the prime minister’s “scandalous behaviour”.