According to the Los Angeles Times newspaper, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not be attending Tuesday's funeral for the former leader of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, due to the trip's high costs.
The newspaper quoted Israeli media as saying that Netanyahu cancelled his trip after finding out that it would cost nearly two million dollars, including $800,000 to rent an El Al private jet to carry the Prime Minister and an additional $900,000 to fly his entourage.
Netanyahu has recently been subject to harsh criticism over his extravagant spending habits incurred by the Israeli taxpayers.
However, in an update, the newspaper reported that Alon Liel, a former Israeli ambassador to South Africa and general director of the Foreign Ministry, suggested that the high cost was not the only consideration behind Netanyahu's decision to stay at home. According Liel: "It would simply have been wrong for Netanyahu to attend; it just wouldn't have been right. The Palestinian issue was so important to Mandela, and Mandela regarded Netanyahu as responsible for repeatedly halting the peace process. Netanyahu's attendance would have been wrong and his presence would not have been well-received."
Liel concluded by saying: "The expense story is a joke, a cover story."