Netanyahu's Ice Cream Addiction Earned Him The Nickname 'Israel's Marie Antoinette'

binyamin netanyahu

Photo: Getty Images/Uriel Senal

As far as vices go, Binyamin Netanyahu’s may be quite vanilla.But the revelation that the Israeli prime minister has a budget in excess of £1,700 to feed his formidable ice-cream cravings has caused a media storm in Israel and delivered a gift to his political opponents.

Netanyahu’s household accounts show that in 2012 he budgeted 10,000 shekels (about £1,750) for ice-cream bought by his staff from a Jerusalem parlour, according to a report in the financial daily Calcalist.

This budget affords the leader and his family 14kg of ice-cream a month.

The generous contract was awarded to Metudela ice-cream parlour on Balfour Street as it “corresponds to [Netanyahu’s] personal tastes”, which while capacious, are conservative: he favours vanilla and pistachio.

The timing of this revelation could not have been more inconvenient for the prime minister, as he struggles to form a broad coalition government prepared to pass a challenging austerity budget that will squeeze teachers, social workers and police officers.

Shelly Yacimovich, leader of the opposition labour party, took to Facebook on hearing the news, posting a Photoshopped picture of the prime minister wielding an ice-cream cone.

“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 quipped.

Netanyahu has attempted to distance himself from the depiction of him as Israel’s equivalent of Marie Antoinette, blaming his staff for the extravagant ice-cream deal.

“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.

In 2012, Netanyahu and his wife were allocated 2.46m shekels (£430,000) of taxpayers’ money for cleaning, clothing and food – excluding ice-cream.

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