MK Meir Sheetrit 311 Ariel.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Many people want a raise, but few of them have the power to legislate one –
unless, of course, they are members of a team set up on Wednesday by the
Knesset’s House Committee to determine what privileges, perks and salaries MKs
The House Committee met in a special recess session to vote
to establish the taskforce, headed by MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima).
initiated the call for the establishment of the team, which is expected to
bypass the independent commission that has determined MKs’ working conditions
for the past eight years.
Although it does not have a written mandate,
Sheetrit’s team is expected to discuss salaries and pensions, and the
possibility of increasing the number of parliamentary aides allotted to
Sheetrit will be joined by a power-broking group of MKs,
including coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, Israel Beiteinu faction chairman
Robert Ilatov, Shas faction chairman Avraham Michaeli, MK Daniel Ben-Simon
(Labor) and MK Einat Wilf (Independence).
Michaeli has already announced
that he “would not allow MKs’ salaries to be raised by the
“MKs are no better than the rest of the nation, but are
public servants – and should act accordingly,” Michaeli said.
Cabel (Labor) and Ilan Gilon (Meretz) strongly opposed the team’s establishment,
and Cabel demanded that it at least be given a clear mandate regarding which
benefits it would and would not review.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin,
who is on a rare official visit overseas, also opposed the establishment of the
panel. He asked that its establishment be postponed until he returned to Israel
on Thursday, but to no avail.
Currently, an external commission led by
Prof. Reuven Gronau is tasked with reviewing MKs’ working conditions and ruling
on salary increases and benefits.
Gronau Commission recommendations are
then passed onto the House Committee for approval.
Technically, the House
Committee is still authorized to change lawmakers’ work conditions, but the
establishment of the Gronau Commission eight years ago was designed to avoid the
embarrassing situation in which MKs were authorized to give themselves raises at
their own discretion.
Raises to MKs’ salaries were frozen in 2008 in the
shadow of the global economic crisis. They get NIS 33,210 a month.