Knesset. The members of the Knesset must feel deprived. Otherwise, why would they be seeking every opportunity to improve their lot? Their monthly salaries are NIS 30,232, but they also get a car, a clothing allowance, an advanced training fund and a pension fund. They also get expense accounts totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels a year. For instance, all their office expenses, totaling NIS 86,000 a month, are paid by budgets for "contact with voters." They have budgets for studying foreign languages, telephone bills, two parliamentary aides, two newspaper subscriptions, and numerous trips abroad with the help of 50 inter-parliamentary friendly societies.
The "contact with voters" gimmick allows them to acquire a range of equipment, such as computers, photocopiers, cellular telephones, as well as espresso machines and refrigerators, because how else can you plan your relationship with voters if not over hot or cold drinks?
Logic dictates that the equipment be auctioned off as soon as the MK's term finishes, but the parliamentarians have decided that not only will there be no auction, but also they themselves will buy it at ridiculous discounts. Former MK Itzhak Gagula, for instance, bought the computer the people of Israel had purchased for him for NIS 298 - in other words, for a 97 percent discount. Hashem Mahameed bought the computer for which the taxpayer paid for NIS 79 - a 98 percent discount. Tamar Gozansky sold Mahmoud Bracha a refrigerator bought and paid for by the toil of Israeli workers for NIS 704. Sofa Landver got a printer at 74 percent off.
Using the (intentionally) undefined structure of "contact with voter," MK Nissim Dahan (Shas) decided to send out invitations to his daughter's nuptials. Dahan is no more and no less than a member of the Knesset Ethics Committee.
Israel Defense Forces. On May 26, near Jabalya in the Gaza Strip, Jean Jacques Jaures was on his way back from Gaza to Israel. Jaures heads the Swiss diplomatic mission in the territories, and a huge Swiss flag waves proudly from his car at all times.
Near Jabalya, a tank stopped the vehicle and ordered Jaures out of the car. He says that he stepped out of the car, presented his diplomatic passport to the soldiers, and returned to the jeep at their request. Then the tank suddenly shot two 0.5 slugs at the car, shattering the windshield. Lucky for Jaures, the jeep was bullet-proofed, saving his life. A month-and-a-half has passed, but the IDF says it is not done investigating the incident, a probe that should not have taken more than 24 hours to get to the truth.
If the slug shot, or even killed, a Palestinian, there would be no one to demand an investigation. If the tank had shelled a home in Jabalya, we wouldn't even hear of the event. But this time, the Swiss government has announced it will impose trade sanctions on Israel if the investigation is dragged out. Now the IDF is worried, because who cares about one little Swis diplomat, but exports and imports are serious business.
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