Moshe Gafni
Moshe Gafni: Vote yea. Photo by Emil Salman
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The wages of Israel's judges and parliamentarians will not be linked to the consumer price index rather than the average wage, though that might have saved the state money over time. The Knesset Finance Committee yesterday shot down a proposal by its own chairman, though the latter, Moshe Gafni, vowed to raise the issue again in a month.

The budget department at the Finance Ministry, which is behind the proposal, urges linkage to the CPI because, simply, it would cost the state less.

Over the last 17 years, the pay of the president, the ministers and judges linked to the average wage has increased by 143%, while in that time the CPI has increased by 107%.

Also, the Finance Committee declined yesterday to change the linkage method for wages paid to judges, which like that of Knesset members and the president is tied to the average wage.

This month, the wages paid to President Shimon Peres and the parliamentarians increase by 3.88% - the rise in the average wage in 2010. Former President Moshe Katsav's monthly income also rises by 3.88%, by the way.

The deal for judges is better. They get the 3.88% raise and another 1.6% raise to compensate them for having their wages frozen for a year in 2009. The extra raise is permanent, though, meaning the judges are actually getting a raise of 5.48%.

The salaries of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the ministers will be rising 7.5% from this month - a sum of the rise in the consumer price index in 2010 plus compensation for having had their pay cut in 2009. Again, though, the raise is permanent.

It is the Finance Committee's mandate to set wage terms for the president and other dignitaries. Gafni explained his support for the treasury's proposal in terms of creating a single uniform linkage mechanism.

Gafni explained that the proposal aimed to institute a single linkage method, either to the CPI or the average wage, for everyone - the president, the judges, the prime minister, the ministers and the MKs.

"I don't understand why the prime minister's and ministers' wages are linked to the CPI while that of the president, the judges and the MKs are linked to the average wage," Gafni said.

Once realizing that his proposal wasn't winning a majority, Gafni rejected Shelly Yachimovich's alternative proposal that the committee vote on de-linking the judges' wages from the president and MKs, and leaving the judges' salaries linked to the average wage.

Yachimovich argued that linking the judges' pay to the CPI rather than the average wage would lower their pay, while judges deserved generous remuneration, as is the norm elsewhere in the world.

Among the members of the Knesset Finance Committee at yesterday's discussion who opposed the proposal were Haim Oron (Meretz ), Shelly Yachimovich (Labor ), Zion Fanian (Likud ), Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List ), and Jacob Edery, Majali Wahabi and Shlomo Molla of Kadima.

Despite the widespread opposition, Gafni said a vote on the proposal would be held in a month.

The judges also opposed abolishing linkage of their pay to the average wage. Labor Court judge Varda Wirth-Livne said that changing the linkage method would be illegal.