Israel watchdog criticises Netanyahu over house price failure

GMT 01:09 2015 Thursday ,26 February

Arab Today, arab today Israel watchdog criticises Netanyahu over house price failure

Israeli settlements in the West Bank
Jerusalem - AFP

Israel's national watchdog Wednesday published a damning report on the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government during a housing crisis, just as the premier seeks re-election.
It came a week after State Comptroller Joseph Shapira officially rebuked Netanyahu over excessive spending on running his private and public residences in a separate report ahead of the March 17 snap vote.
Wednesday's 294-page report said housing prices had increased 55 percent and rent costs by 30 percent between 2008 and 2013, and that "no solution was found" by Netanyahu's government, which took office in 2009, to try to slow the continuing rise.
In 2014, prices increased another five percent, figures published this week showed.
In the face of "soaring house prices," wages barely increased during the period, the report said.
"The various government departments reacted with no strategic plan of action in the long term, and without any goals set," it said.
On February 17, another report from Shapira detailed how spending on cleaning, food and repairs at Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem and his private home in northern Israel rose dramatically when the premier took office in 2009, but then decreased in 2013.
It also mentioned alleged mishandling of funds from recycled bottles by Netanyahu's wife Sarah, as well as the purchase of garden furniture for the weekend residence.
Despite the scandal, and centre-left opposition lapping up media campaigns against Netanyahu, polls suggest the incumbent premier will nonetheless win a fourth term at the head of a right-wing government led by his Likud party.
Netanyahu reacted coolly to the latest report.
"This report is important and rightly states that there are many things still to do in this domain, which I shall act on if re-elected," he said while visiting a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.
Israel's high cost of living and soaring housing prices in 2011 prompted hundreds of thousands of protesters to camp out in commercial capital Tel Aviv in a mass protest that summer.

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