Barkat seeks to be paid only one shekel salary as Member of Knesset

The former mayor of Jerusalem turned MK is Israel's richest politician by a wide margin, earning his wealth in anti-virus software.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
May 1, 2019 01:29
2 minute read.
Nir Barkat

Nir Barkat. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

New Member of Knesset Nir Barkat made a public announcement Tuesday that he prefers to forgo the normal salary for the position and earn only NIS 1, as he did during his ten years as mayor of Jerusalem.


"For me it is a great privilege to serve the public without any compensation," Barkat stated in a letter to Knesset Comptroller Haim Avidor which was distributed to the media in a press release. "After ten years of serving as mayor of Jerusalem for the symbolic salary of one shekel per year, I ask to now set my salary as an elected representative in the Knesset at the same level of one shekel per year," wrote Barkat.
During the training seminar for new MKs, it was revealed that there are procedural problems for a member of Israel's parliament to give up his or her salary.


"I am certain that, just as it was possible at the Jerusalem Municipality, I will be able to continue to do so in my position as a member of Knesset," Barkat stated.


Mayor of Jerusalem from 2008 - 2018, Barkat was elected to the Knesset on April 9th with the Likud party.


He has maintained his status as Israel's richest politician with a value estimated at roughly NIS 500 million ($140 million) according to Forbes Israel magazine in February. In 2013 he was also ranked most well-off elected official with more wealth than the combined value of the next three politicians on the list.


In 1988 Barkat founded software company BRM with his brother Eli. It later became the investment firm for the successful Check Point and Backweb anti-virus software.


Forbes ranked his sister-in-law Alona Barkat as second richest candidate with NIS 460 million. The businesswoman and owner of the HaPoel Beersheva soccer club missed out on being elected with the New Right party headed by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.


Knesset members make some NIS 40,000 a month. However, they pay nearly half of that in taxes, The Jerusalem Post reported in 2016. Cabinet ministers earn more and Barkat, who is high on the list of Likud MKs may be assigned such a position although negotiations are still in progress.


In distant second place is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who earned most of his wealth as a public speaker and consultant.  during the period he did not lead the country.


Avi Gabbay, chairman of the Labor party comes in third place with NIS 29 million. He was the CEO of the Bezeq telecommunications company from from 2007 to 2013.


Haim Katz, long-time Likud minister and former head of the Israel Aerospace Industries workers union is in fourth place with NIS 28 million. Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party which joined together with Benny Gantz to form Blue and White, has an estimated worth of NIS 25 million ($7 million) earned from his years as a television host and commentator.


Gantz, a former IDF chief-of-staff was the main competitor to Netanyahu in the recent election and is estimated at 8 million NIS ($2 million).


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