MK Michael Biton accuses supermarket owners of being 'pigs, tycoons'

Israeli MK Michael Biton took issue with food group owner Rami Levy during a visit to the Knesset, which led to a verbal spat between the two.

 Knesset Economics Committee head Michael Biton leads a meeting to fight against road homicide,  halting the increase in accidents and formulating a national road safety plan, at the Knesset, Jerusalem, October 26, 2021. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Knesset Economics Committee head Michael Biton leads a meeting to fight against road homicide, halting the increase in accidents and formulating a national road safety plan, at the Knesset, Jerusalem, October 26, 2021.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

A verbal spat between Knesset member Michael Biton (National Unity Party) and businessman Rami Levy broke out during a Knesset Economy Committee meeting economy regarding the issue of the increase in food prices and its effect on the cost of living.

Scolding the CEO of the eponymously-named Rami Levy group, Biton was heard saying: "You have become a tycoon, sit down and be quiet.”

The MK spoke with Aryeh Eldad and Guy Peleg on their radio show on 103FM about the incident later that night and accused Rami Levy of disrespect.

"The members of the Knesset are the owners of the house, and no matter who is the guest in the Knesset, he will treat the members of the Knesset with respect,” Biton declared. “I explained that the food chains are responsible for the cost of the food, and they try to pass it on to others. Their first request to the Economic Committee is to exempt them from marking products because it makes (products) more expensive.”

ALL SMILES with Netanyahu and Likud supporter Rami Levy as Barkat receives ‘one of his first missions as finance minister,’ at one of Levy’s supermarkets in February. (credit: FABIAN KOLDORFF)ALL SMILES with Netanyahu and Likud supporter Rami Levy as Barkat receives ‘one of his first missions as finance minister,’ at one of Levy’s supermarkets in February. (credit: FABIAN KOLDORFF)

Michael Biton vs Rami Levy

“I saw Rami come in and sit as the owner of the house and disturb the MK in his discussions – he behaved like he owned the place,” he explained.

“Be a Likudnik, but don't act like the owner of the house in the Knesset. As long as I am in this house, you will be like a human being and won’t receive the honor of a king.”

Biton continued his rant, saying “Rami Levy, you became a tycoon. (Rami Levy) could have become an entrepreneur who lowered prices, but instead became a tycoon, and has five million shekels in salary and bonus, another few million for his family and the rental of properties he owns to subsidiaries. He generates at least 100 million shekels a year for himself, which comes from feeding children and families," Biton exclaimed. 

“(Levy) is not the biggest pig around… at least he came to the Knesset. But there are pigs in the food industry," Biton added. “One tool was available to the competition authority, which was to issue fines to competition violators, but such a fine was never given.” 

“We have a responsibility to make sure that the food chains participate in fair competition, rather than violate fair competition. There is a serious market failure with a wide chain of competition breakers…. They are tycoons in the sense that five major chains are 70% of the market.”