Labor MKs shocked as interim chairman insists on big salary

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 16, 2011 04:11

Party officials assumed Micha Harish would not take a salary during the seven months that he was leading the party.

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Former industry and trade minister Micha Harish.

Micha Harish 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Interim Labor chairman Micha Harish surprised his party’s MKs recently when he requested that the party, which has a NIS 30 million debt, pay him a large monthly salary.

When Harish was appointed on January 23, party officials assumed that Harish, like former Labor chairmen, would not take a salary during the seven months that he was leading the party.

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Harish, a former minister of industry and trade, reportedly made a fortune over the past 15 years as a consultant and mediator in the telecommunications industry via his companies, Harish Enterprises Ltd and Telecorp Communications. 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.

One party official said it was understandable that Harish would ask for a salary because he had left his post as chairman of the National Theater Council for a full-time job rehabilitating the party. But MKs said in private conversations that they should have made clear from the start that they were looking for a volunteer.

“I was shocked that he asked for money,” one MK said after reading about the salary in Yediot Aharonot. “If he is indeed a wealthy man, then this is a real problem, because Labor is in such bad shape financially.”

The MK said he would raise the issue in the next Labor faction meeting.

Harish did not answer repeated calls on Tuesday.


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