JERUSALEM, Israel - Israel's Tourism Ministry denied picking up the dinner tab for White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and his family at a seafood restaurant in the southern resort city of Eilat.
The family arrived Friday, May 21, for a 10-day visit to celebrate the bar mitzvah of Emanuel's son, Zach, and nephew, Noah.
Israeli media, including Yediot Ahronot and israel national news, posted stories over the weekend alleging that a Tourism Ministry staffer accompanying the Emanuels picked up the dinner tab.
"We offered to help the Emanuels with their visit, but they said no," a spokesman for the Tourism Ministry said on Monday.
The fact that the family chose a non-kosher seafood restaurant added fuel to the fire.
"We bring thousands of people to Israel. Our official events are kosher, but when people are on their own, we don't pick at their plates or make sure they eat all their meals at the Knesset cafeteria," he said.
"Our representative did not eat with them," the spokesman said.
In response to the story, National Union MK (member of Knesset) Michael Ben-Ari wrote a letter of complaint to the attorney general.
"I was amazed to hear that following the sumptuous meal at the Boston restaurant, Emanuel handed the bill to a Ministry of Tourism representative who was present," israel national news quoted Ben-Ari on its website.
"In my humble legal opinion, there is no possibility of making the State of Israel pay for such a meal as part of a private visit by the White House chief of staff and his family," Ben-Ari said.
Ben-Ari noted that "the gentlemen sponsors anti-Semitic policies in the White House."
The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.