Life After Knesset? Former Lawmakers Are Landing on Their Feet

Israeli ex-legislators are everything from business students to business moguls.

Former MK Anastassia Michaeli (Yisrael Beiteinu) reports to the employment office every week. “I’m not ashamed to go to the employment office,” she says. “I go there as an ordinary citizen. I was told I was eligible for unemployment benefits for 175 days, so I go there once a week.”

Michaeli, 37, devotes her time to her husband and eight children, and she has begun studying for an MBA at the College of Management in Rishon Letzion. She's the only former MK who heads to the job center every week; your typical former MK or minister has either found a high-profile job in business, is considering one, or is running in this autumn's municipal elections.

With their political connections, many former MKs are finding positions as consultants or board members. Until they start their new jobs, former MKs receive adjustment payments at anywhere between NIS 38,000 and NIS 230,000.

Last week the owner of the Rami Levy retail chain announced that Dalia Itzik (Kadima) would be joining its board. Itzik, 60, is a former Knesset speaker and former head of three different ministries – industry, trade and labor, communications and environmental protection. She will receive an annual salary of around NIS 100,000.

Roni Bar-On (Kadima) is a former finance minister, interior minister, infrastructure minister, science minister and chairman of the Knesset House Committee. Next month Bar-On, 65, is expected to become an external board member at Alrov Real Estate. He'll be eligible for an annual salary of about NIS 90,000.

Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu) will soon be appointed an external board member of Discount Investment. Matalon, 60, is also a former chairman of the Disabled Veterans Organization. Discount Investment, owned by Nochi Dankner, has a controlling stake in Super-Sol, Cellcom and Koor Industries. In May Matalon is expected to start a three-year term at an annual salary of NIS 100,000.

The day after he left as defense minister, Ehud Barak (Atzmaut), 71, registered a new company, Hyperion (EB) 2013. The firm was registered under Barak’s current address, Tel Aviv's prestigious Gindi Tower. Barak, who in the first half of the last decade dabbled in security-related business, is the sole owner.

According to Shai Hermesh (Kadima), “I agreed to the request of my kibbutz, Kfar Aza, and I serve as a board member at Kafrit Industries." Hermesh, 69, says the kibbutz holds a 78 percent stake in the company, which produces raw materials for the plastics industry. The public owns the rest. The company’s owner, Ram Belinkov, is a former head of the Finance Ministry’s budget department.

Some former MKs are sticking with the public sector. Otniel Schneller (Kadima) has been named a candidate for cabinet secretary. Former minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) has been appointed chairman of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel, and Rachel Adatto (Kadima) is a candidate for director general of Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. Adatto is a former deputy director general of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Shalom Simhon (Atzmaut) once headed the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, as well as the Agriculture Ministry. Last week, Simhon, 56, was appointed chairman of the Histadrut corporation Nir Shitufi, which holds the property of Israel’s kibbutzim and moshavim. He's also chairman of the Histadrut’s agricultural center.

Some former MKs will be running in the local elections this October. Carmel Shama Hacohen (Likud) is running for mayor of Ramat Gan and is putting together an Internet project. Fellow Likudnik Zion Pinyan is running for mayor of Tiberias, and Yoel Hasson (Hatnuah) is considering running for mayor of Rishon Letzion. Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beiteinu) is considering running for mayor of Upper Nazareth.

Olivier Fitoussi
Shiran Granot