Harish apologizes for taking salary

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 17, 2011 02:58

“I wish my financial situation enabled me to afford to volunteer,” Interim Labor chairman says.

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Former industry and trade minister Micha Harish.

Micha Harish 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Interim Labor chairman Micha Harish told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that he regretted that he had to take a salary from the party, despite its NIS 30 million debt.

The Post reported on Wednesday that Harish had surprised his party’s Knesset members when he requested that the party pay him a large monthly salary. When he was appointed on January 23, party officials had assumed that Harish, like former Labor chairmen, would not take a salary during the seven months that he would head the party.

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“I wish my financial situation enabled me to afford to volunteer,” Harish said in a phone interview. “I am not as wealthy as some people think I am. Rehabilitating Labor is a full-time job that has taken me away from my company, so I had no choice but to ask for a salary.”

Harish, a former minister of industry and trade, is a consultant and mediator in the telecommunications industry and runs Harish Enterprises Ltd and Telecorp Communications with his son. He also receives a hefty pension – reportedly of more than NIS 20,000 a month – from the state as a former minister who was in the Knesset for 22 years.

Nevertheless, Harish asked Labor to pay him the salary and benefits of a Knesset member, which amounts to NIS 34,000 a month. As a compromise, the eight remaining Labor MKs agreed to pay him 75 percent of that, NIS 25,500 a month.

Harish said the international financial crisis that began in 2008 left him with little to no income since then from his companies, which work to connect Israeli firms with corporations in five countries.

While MKs said this week that they were shocked and upset that Harish asked for a salary from the party despite its financial woes, the eight Labor MKs unanimously approved the salary.


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