Barak and Ben-Eliezer reject critiques of their Knesset absences

Barak, Ben-Eliezer fined

Sources close to Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Industry, Trade and Commerce Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer accused fellow Labor Party member and Knesset Ethics Committee Chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich of settling party scores in delivering her committee's scathing report blasting repeat absences from Knesset business by both party officials. Barak's media adviser, Barak Seri, emphasized that Barak's absences were due to "diplomatic and security missions in Europe and North America with the approval of the government. "It would be better if, before publishing the report, the Ethics Committee would clarify the missions carried out by the Defense Minister, and then it would be clear that there were extremely important reasons for his absences from the Knesset." Ben-Eliezer's office went a step further, saying that they were "sorry that her embittered and unfair decision against Barak and Ben-Eliezer reached the ministers by way of the media, without offering the right to appeal or respond first." His office also emphasized that Ben-Eliezer's absences were also due to overseas work on behalf of his ministry, as well as for diplomatic purposes. The two - as well as MK Said Nafah and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman - are set to receive monetary fines, revoking portions of their Knesset salaries commensurate with work days missed. All four failed to reach the minimum number of days of Knesset attendance required of all representatives, ministers included. Barak was present at 13 of the 38 plenum meetings, six below the minimum. Ben-Eliezer was present at 13, Lieberman at 17 and Nafah at 19.