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A slew of recent tragedies has prompted the government to hold a special session on the war on road accidents this week. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter said they plan ?to step up the war.?

The only operative decision so far is that Mofaz increased the salary of the National Road Safety Authority director general and recognized the status of the new authority as equal to that of its predecessor, which benefits the salaries of its deputy directors and other workers.The gross monthly salary of the authority?s director general will be bumped up from NIS 28,000 to NIS 31,700.

The two decisions contradict decisions made by a public committee for classifying statutory corporations, headed by former civil service commissioner Abraham Friedman. The committee did not want to classify the road safety authority because it was still being established and set authority salaries accordingly. Its decision did not come into discussion before the government approved the salary hike.

Mofaz recently appointed Kadima member Lior Carmel to head the newly founded authority. Carmel, former secretary general of the Scouts movement, lacks professional experience in the war on road accidents. He was appointed, say Knesset officials, because of his close party ties. He was number 37 on Kadima?s Knesset election list.

Carmel commented that granting the new authority status was meant to make it more competitive when recruiting professional personnel with the likes of Highway 6, Ayalon Highways, and the Israel National Roads Company, formerly known as the Public Works Department. He added that he informed authority chair Yoav Sarna that he would ?pass? on receiving his raise, but the response was that it was not a personal but rather a policy decision.

In response to this report, the Transportation Ministry deferred to the road safety authority for comment.