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Knesset members need to make more money, Meir Sheetrit (Kadima ) insisted yesterday.

"Knesset members' salaries are low compared to those of senior civil servants, and this requires a thorough examination," he told TheMarker.

Sheetrit chairs a group of MKs tasked with studying the legislators' salary and benefits. The group began work yesterday morning and will present its recommendations to the Knesset House Committee when it finishes.

Today, MKs make NIS 37,200 a month gross. Their after-tax monthly salaries are in the NIS 19,000 range. MKs also are entitled to a car and gas at the public's expense. The salaries are linked to the average wage and are adjusted once a year, in January.

Sheetrit, who has served in the Knesset since 1981, said the committee should consider linking MKs' salaries to changes in public-sector wages. They should also be raised to the same level as those of district court judges, who make NIS 45,000 a month, he said.

MKs' salaries are lower than those of mayors of the four biggest cities (Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva ); they make NIS 40,519 a month, Sheetrit noted. Mayors of other cities with over 100,000 inhabitants make NIS 39,403 a month. Many heads of nonprofit organizations also make more than MKs, he added.

The final say on MKs' wages and benefits belongs to the House Committee. A public committee headed by Prof. Reuben Gronau recommends appropriate salaries and benefits, but the House Committee is sovereign and can choose whether to approve or disapprove the Gronau Committee's recommendations.

Sheetrit's panel will also examine issues unrelated to salary and benefits. Today, for instance, every MK is entitled to hire two assistants and gets an annual budget of NIS 68,000 for an office outside the Knesset. Sheetrit said these conditions are inadequate and do not allow MKs to carry out their duties properly.