Knesset House Committee members have managed to break retired judge Shaul Aloni. They appointed him chair of a public panel to set the terms and conditions of MKs' salary and pensions. But, not caring for his conclusions, they threw them out, leaving Aloni no alternative but to resign, for Aloni is a man of principle and honor - values that MKs have long forgotten.
The story began when the House Committee determined that eight MKs who served in the last Knesset will receive 8 percent of their salary in pension, instead of just the 6 percent corresponding to their three years in office (at 2 percent per year). The case went to court, following which the Aloni committee decided that the eight MKs would have to suffice with 6 percent in pension.
Every decision by the Aloni committee, though, is but a recommendation that needs approval by the House Committee. So long as the Aloni panel recommends improving the conditions of work for MKs, its proposals are readily accepted. But when the committee takes a reasoned line, all of a sudden there is an uproar.
The House Committee convened and decided not only to make a fool of Aloni but to extend the full pension rights to 14 other long-serving MKs who retired at the end of the last Knesset; so they too would receive 8 percent instead of only 6 percent of their salary. And it really isn't important that these 14 enjoy pensions paid from the day they leave office, and that they have already accumulated a hefty pension. This doesn't bother the MKs, because as long as they are able to rob the tax-paying public, they will do so.
Apparently the MKs professional union is the strongest in the country. It doesn't need to strike, beg, or explain itself. It simply lifts a finger and improves the work conditions of its members. Two MKs in particular excelled themselves: MKs Yair Peretz and Rabbi Binyamin Elon claimed that after the previous Knesset dispersed after only three years, some MKs, expecting a four-year stint, suddenly found themselves out of work. Oh dear, what a pity! As if they had no idea that politics is unstable, and that most Knessets do not last the four-year term. There are some politicians who claim the media is out to bash the Knesset with ugly and sensationalist activity that weakens the very heart of democratic government. But what can you do when the MKs themselves provide the juicy material on which these reports are based?
Now, after Aloni has resigned, Knesset speaker Avraham Burg has announced that he will convince House Committee Chair Yossi Katz to have the team debate the matter again, accept Aloni's recommendations, and encourage the former judge to return to the panel. I would suggest Burg not get involved: If the matter comes up for discussion again in the House Committee, it will only vote again according to its own tradition, teaching us all a lesson and upping the pensions of those 22 MKs whose earnings are already quite significant.
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