The balance sheet prepared by those who control the Prime Minister’s purse string showed that the exchequer would be poorer by $1.9 million if Mr. Netanyahu had taken the trip.

The decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to skip Nelson Mandela’s funeral, citing cost considerations, has been roundly slammed in the domestic media, where newspaper columnists have contrasted his penny-pinching to keep away from paying respects to an anti-Apartheid icon, with his extravagant personal spending style at home.

Mr. Netanyahu apparently took the decision to drop out from visiting Soweto, because the trip would have made a dent in his expense account.

The balance sheet prepared by those who control the Prime Minister’s purse string showed that the exchequer would be poorer by $1.9 million if Mr. Netanyahu had taken the trip.

Taken aback by the rationale for the decision, Israeli website Ynetnews said it is “unthinkable that [Mr.] Netanyahu can’t tell the difference between an official trip to an event attended by all of the world’s leaders and grandiose water bills or expenses related to personal hedonism”.

The attack was even sharper by the daily Haaretz, with one of its columnists opining that by skipping the funeral for Mandela, Mr. Netanyahu proved “that he is not the smug, petty, vindictive, waffling, in-your-face insulting man he seems. He’s something worse”.

The article went on to say the Prime Minister had sent a message: “My Israel, which so craves and demands legitimacy and recognition as a full partner in the community of nations, does not consider a man like Nelson Mandela, or a nation like South Africa, or the sentiment of an entire world, worth the price of a plane flight.”

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