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Judges evidently feel they should retire earlier than your average Yossi. Their representative organization, their equivalent of a union, demands that the judges appointed from the year 1999 be allowed to retire at age 60, and that the state finance their "bridge pension" through monthly stipends.

Moreover, the judges' reps demand that these judges, who pay into pension funds, be given another NIS 4,000 to NIS 4,600 a month on top of their pension payments, until age 70.

Ordinary Israelis can only retire at 67, in the case of men, and 64 in the case of women. The retirement age for judges is 70.

The change in rules would cost the state - the taxpayer - NIS 4.8 million per judge, the treasury stated in a rebuttal delivered to the House.

From 1999, newly hired judges have been denied taxpayer-supported pensions: they actually have to make provisions from their pay into pension funds.

TheMarker obtained this week a letter sent two weeks ago by judges representatives to former Finance Ministry capital markets director Eyal Ben Chelouche and to Dorit Tene-Perchik, head of the Histadrut labor federation's pension division, asking them to advocate their case before the Knesset subcommittee on judges' conditions. The subcommittee is part of the Knesset Finance Committee.

Ben Chelouche spearheaded pension reforms within the treasury. Knesset officials claim the proposal he submitted to the Knesset last week, which leans towards the judges' position, would violate current civil service pension policy.
 
The current retirement age for judges is 70. Judges receiving pensions paid for by the state can retire at 55 and still receive a full monthly pension payment, but those who fall under the new arrangements are not entitled to monthly pension payments before age 67.

The judges are seeking a state-supported stipend of NIS 4,500 per month to bridge the gap between 60 and 67 should they choose to retire at 60.

Treasury officials familiar with the situation fear that accepting the judges' demands would signal a retreat from the pension reforms implemented in 1999. They also fear that if they give in to the judges' demands, other civil service sectors may demand similar benefits, including MKs, whose salary raises are linked to those of judges, and teachers.