Forbes Israel on Tuesday released its annual list of Israel's wealthiest politicians (Hebrew link), topped for a second consecutive year by Vice Premier Silvan Shalom with an estimated net worth of NIS 150 million.
Forbes attributed Shalom's fortune primarily to his wife Judy's 12 percent stake in Yediot Aharonot's ownership group.
Coming in second place was Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman, founder of one of Israel's leading law firms, Herzog, Fox & Neeman, with a net worth of approximately NIS 100 million. According to Forbes, Herzog, Fox & Neeman stands to earn revenues in excess of NIS 172 million this year.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was third on the list, with an estimated fortune of NIS 56 million, NIS 30 million of which was accumulated when he exited politics from 2001-2007 to start a consulting company and lecture.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu placed sixth on the list, down from fifth last year, with an estimated net worth of NIS 41 million. Netanyahu's primary assets are his two homes, a penthouse in Jerusalem worth approximately NIS 7-8 million and a villa in Caesarea purchased in 2002 valued between NIS 10 and 15 million.
Political newcomer Yaid Lapid's estimated net worth of NIS 22 million positioned him eighth on the list. His wealth accumulated primarily during his tenure as a Channel 2 news anchor and spokesman for Bank Hapoalim.
Israel, along with France, are the only two Western countries that do not require politicians publicly to report their assets. Elected officials in Israel are required to submit financial reports to both the Knesset Speaker and the State Comptroller, however, their contents are kept secret.
Of the 120 Knesset members contacted by Forbes Israel, only seven, including Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, agreed to fully disclose their assets.
In late August, Yacimovich revealed plans to revive her 2009 bill requiring elected officials to reveal their business and other interests, which she will table when the Knesset's winter session begins in October.