Only seven of Israel's 120 members of Knesset have met TheMarker's challenge and revealed their wealth and assets. Of the seven, Shelly Yachimovich of Labor, who chairs the Knesset Ethics Committee, is the best-off, with personal assets estimated at NIS 1.2 million. Meretz leader Haim Oron had the least assets, in fact none whatsoever beyond his home, he claims. That's because he's a kibbutznik, he explained.
In second place after Yachimovich came Knesset member Marina Solodkin (Kadima), with personal wealth estimated at NIS 1.09 million. Third was Ilan Gilon of Meretz, who reported assets worth NIS 900,000.
TheMarker recently challenged the Knesset members to publicly reveal their assets. Some yesterday complained to the Ethics Committee about "media requests" to reveal their riches.
Yachimovich is also behind a legislative proposal to publish all Israel's parliamentarians' declarations of assets. There is no legal requirement at present for Israel's elected representatives to reveal their assets to the general public. However, upon their election, they do have to give a declaration of assets to the Knesset speaker. Their statements are filed in a safe.
All the seven who agreed to expose their assets belong to the echelon of Knesset members considered, if not exactly indigent, then at least not-rich. None of the ministers, veteran Knesset members - with the exception of Oron and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin - or "well-heeled" MKs would reveal their wealth or that of their families.
One former minister, who is unarguably well off, remarked that the drive is pretentious. "The Knesset members who revealed their wealth are young, or haven't been in the legislative house for long, or they didn't accrue much assets before taking their seats. You should be asking Knesset members to reveal their assets after their stint in parliament."
Yachimovich's hasn't been the only proposal on the table for parliamentarians to reveal their assets. Yoel Hasson of Kadima, Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz and Yuli Tamir of Labor also had similar ideas, but withdrew them after deciding they couldn't garner sufficient support among their colleagues.
Hasson was the first who agreed to reveal his wealth at TheMarker's request, which is: NIS 433,000, after adjusting for liabilities. "In recent years efforts have been made to increase transparency regarding elected officials, in order to bolster the public's trust," he says.
Recently several papers contacted the MKs, asking them to divulge their assets. He, for one, had made the decision to be completely transparent in his public activity, so he decided to provide the requested statement of assets, Hasson explained.
Oron, who served as chairman of the Ethics Committee in the past, commented that he personally had no problem with disclosing his assets. However, he does not think that Knesset members should be forced to disclose their assets to the general public. He does advocate further discussion about the merits of the present practice, in which parliamentarians do provide statements of assets, that remain confidential. One possibility is that the chairperson of the Ethics Committee be empowered to study the statements, and look into significant changes over time.
MK Moshe Matalon of Yisrael Beiteinu said there's a limit to the public's right to know. "I have nothing to hide," he said. "I submitted my statement of assets as required. I have no problem with examination into my income before and after my stint [in the Knesset]," he said.
In a nutshell, Yachimovich declared herself worth about NIS 1.2 million. Solodkin says she's worth NIS 1.09 million and Gilon declared his wealth at NIS 907,000. Robert Tiviaev (Kadima) declared his worth at NIS 583,000 and Yoel Hasson's assets are worth NIS 433,000. Orit Noked (Labor) stated her assets at NIS 418,000 and Oron says he has no assets other than the roof over his head.
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