European Jewish Congress
Israeli Press Review of 25.05.2016
Israeli Press Review
Israeli Press Review of 25.05.2016

Major Headlines
  • PM’s travel expenses under scrutiny in comptroller’s report

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's travel expenses came under fresh scrutiny on Tuesday with the release of an official report into alleged overcharging and other matters, the i24 news website reports.

The state comptroller's report covers 2003-05, when Netanyahu was finance minister, and concerns five foreign trips, some with his wife and children, Israeli media reported.

At the centre of the affair, dubbed “Bibitours” by the local press, are allegations of misappropriation of state funds and excessive spending by Netanyahu and his wife Sara, including that Netanyahu had double billed travel expenses at an earlier stage of his political career.

The report notes a "lack of clarity" over bonus points earned on flights by the Israeli company El Al during official trips, they reported.

The bonus points were allegedly used by Netanyahu's relatives for private travel.

A press release from the state comptroller's office prior to the report's publication said that State Comptroller Yosef Shapira in 2015 requested that the attorney general reopen an investigation into several matters over "suspicion of criminal [wrongdoing]."

The press release added that the Shapira "found that the travels of Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu and his family, funded by outside sources while he served as finance minister, deviated from the rules on the subject, and the matter is liable to create the perception that he accepted benefits or [had a] conflict of interest. It will be noted that in all of those cases, like other ministers at that period, Mr. Netanyahu did not turn to the committees on gifts or permissions to evaluate whether [it was permitted]."

Click here to read the full article in i24


  • Foreign press association slams Israel’s strip search demand

Israel's foreign media union condemned a demand for a photographer to submit to a strip-search before entering Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office on Monday, Yediot Aharonot reports.

"The Foreign Press Association is disturbed and disappointed to hear once again that a photographer covering an event today with the prime minister was asked to take part in a humiliating security check before being allowed to attend," the FPA said in a statement.

Atef Safadi, a Druze journalist with the European Press photo Agency (EPA), was attending as the FPA representative to take photos of a meeting with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls that would later have been shared between media.

Before entering he was asked to remove his clothes as part of a security check, a request he refused.

He left, resulting in no photos for foreign media of the event. Furthermore, foreign news agency refused to even use photos distributed by the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO).

"The FPA again calls on security agencies to respect the right of journalists at such events, who already hold Israeli government press accreditation," the statement added.

"This isn't my first time at the Prime Minister's Office, I'm there at least once a month," Safadi told Ynet on Monday. "They know me, I've been a photographer for news agencies for 18 years, but the difference is that today I was representing all of the agencies."

"The foreign journalist who was with me was not subjected to a physical search," he charged. "I don't know if they searched the rest. They didn't tell me why they wanted to search me. They don't answer, just take orders."

The PMO said in response: "The security division was acting according to procedures. The photographer received a respectful and courteous treatment. The photographer decided not to complete the security check."

Israel's media status was downgraded from free to partly-free last month by a US-based watchdog, Freedom House.

Click here to read the full article in Yediot Aharonot


  • Unemployment in Israel reaches historic low

This past April marked a historic drop in the Israeli unemployment rate, which sunk to 4.9% as compared with 5.3% in March, according to a report from the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel Hayom.

The report indicated that some 193,000 people were unemployed in April as compared with 208,700 in March.

The unemployment rate among the 25-64 age group stood at 4.4% in April and 4.5% in March. The rate of people in the same age group who are participating in the labour force rose to 80.5% in April as compared with 79.8% in March.

The rate of men in the 25-64 age range who are participating in the labor force was 84.8%, marking no change since March, while among women in the same age range, it rose from 75% in March to 76.3% in April.

However, CBS economists have warned not to read too much into the changes noted in April due, among other things, to a rise in temporary jobs leading up to the Passover holiday and the closure of the Unemployment Office over the holidays, which prevented people from registering for unemployment benefits. Additionally, private employers may have avoided laying off workers over the holidays.

Still, despite the seasonal influences of the Passover holiday in April, the drop in unemployment is noteworthy. Its significance, along with the impact of temporary holiday employment, will be revealed when the May labour force data is released.

Click here to read the full article in Israel Hayom


Wednesday, May 25, 2016
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