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Israeli Government to Investigate Alleged Netanyahu Ethics Violations


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes part in his party's faction meeting in the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, March 28, 2011

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes part in his party's faction meeting in the Knesset, Israel's parliament in Jerusalem, March 28, 2011

The Israeli government's chief accounting officer said he will investigate media reports accusing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of engaging in unethical travel and campaign fundraising before he took office for a second time.

Israeli state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said Thursday the investigation will examine possible conflicts of interest arising from private funding of Netanyahu's travel expenses and election campaigns in the years between his two terms as prime minister.

Netanyahu first served in the post from 1996 to 1999, and took office for a second time in 2009. In the interim, he served several years in the posts of foreign minister and finance minister before becoming the leader of Israel's opposition.

Israeli television service Channel 10 has broadcast reports alleging that Netanyahu improperly used private donations to pay for lavish air travel and hotel accommodation abroad. It also accused him of failing to report all private campaign donations to the state comptroller, as required by law.

Netanyahu denied the allegations Wednesday, saying they are part of an "orchestrated" campaign to force him out of office. He predicted that he will remain prime minister for "many years."

A day earlier, the Israeli prime minister filed a $300,000 lawsuit against Channel 10 for libel.

He also filed a $300,000 lawsuit against Israeli newspaper Maariv for publishing a report alleging that he and his wife spent huge amounts of money on overseas meals.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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