Your Middle East
Last updated: 18 February, 2013

Netanyahu’s ice cream problem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s weakness for vanilla and pistachio ice cream has caused an outcry in Israel.

Last week, the Israeli business news site Calcalist revealed that the Netanyahu household had requested and been approved 10,000 shekels (around EUR 2.000) for buying pistachio and French vanilla ice cream from the Jerusalem gelateria Metudela, located on Balfour Street, near the PM’s residence.

According to The Guardian, this would afford the Israeli leader and his family 14kg of ice-cream a month. In 2012, the Netanyahu household was allocated 2.46 million shekels of the Israeli taxpayers’ money for cleaning, clothing and food.

”The ice cream has gone to Netanyahu’s head,” wrote Haaretz, while Shelly Yacimovich, leader of the opposition Labor party, posted a Photoshopped picture of the prime minister wielding an ice-cream cone on Facebook.

“If there’s no bread, let them eat ice-cream. Should we laugh or cry? Was that what he meant when he said there are no ‘free meals’?” she bantered.

The Prime Minister, who earns 46,700 shekels per month and in addition has all expenses for his Jerusalem residence covered by the state, tried to distance himself from the criticism by blaming his staff:

“Last night, as soon as the prime minister found out about the agreement signed by his office with that ice-cream establishment, for the supply of ice-cream for hosting at his official residence, he gave instruction to cancel it immediately. The prime minister said this is an unreasonable expense that is unacceptable to him,” an official at the prime minister’s office said on Friday, according to The Guardian.

Although Metudela has now lost its contract with Netanyahu, the high-end ice cream parlor has trippled its sale since the ice cream affair became public on Thursday. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Prime Minister’s favourite flavour is now sold under the name “Bibi pistachio”.

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