Forbes Ranks Israel's Wealthiest Politicians

Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom tops list of richest Israeli politicians with NIS 150m net worth.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Where's the money? Well, some of it is with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who is worth some NIS 22 million, making him the country's eighth-richest politician, according to Forbes Israel, which published its financial rankings of Israeli politicians Tuesday.

Lapid, who is trying to build his Knesset candidacy as a representative of the middle class, accumulated his wealth from advertising campaigns, television work and writing best-selling books. He is the only politician near the top of the list who is not a minister or member of Knesset.

But the data behind these rankings is limited. Of the 120 MKs, only seven agreed to Forbes' request to disclose their financial information.

Knesset regulations require all MKs, ministers and deputy ministers to make a declaration of wealth, but these are not in the public record; they are deposited with the offices of the Knesset speaker and the state comptroller. All members of the 18th Knesset have filed these declarations.

The wealthiest politician, according to Forbes, is Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom, who is worth NIS 150 million, and who tops the list for the second year in a row. Shalom made his fortune in a time-honored fashion - he married into it. His wife, Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, owns 12 percent of the Yedioth Ahronoth group.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman is ranked second, with an estimated net worth of NIS 100 million, which comes from the Herzog Fox Neeman law firm, of which he is a founding partner.

Third is Defense Minister Ehud Barak, with NIS 56 million, NIS 30 million of which is attributed to his business and speaking activities between 2001 and 2007, when he was out of politics.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is ranked sixth, with a net worth of NIS 41 million, much of which was also earned from speeches and business activities. The Netanyahus have two homes - a penthouse in Jerusalem's Rehavia neighborhood, estimated to be worth NIS 7 to 8 million, and a villa in Caesarea, which they bought at a bargain price in 2002 and which is now worth NIS 10 to 15 million.

Deputy Pensioner Affairs Minister Leah Nass is the only woman at the top of the list, ranking fifth, with wealth estimated at NIS 45 million. It is attributed to the business activities of her spouse, Shlomo Nass, a senior partner in the Dr. Shlomo Nass law firm and president of an investment group.

Newcomer Lapid owns a home in Tel Aviv's Ramat Aviv Gimmel neighborhood said to be worth NIS 8 million. Even before starting his career as a television personality, he earned NIS 4 million a year for five years as the public face of Bank Hapoalim, according to Forbes.

Lapid also wrote 11 books that have each sold at least 20,000 copies. His 2010 book "Memories After My Death," written in the voice of his deceased father, journalist and politician Tommy Lapid, sold more than 100,000 copies. Forbes said sources in the publishing industry reported that he earns 20% royalties on each book, and the magazine puts his income from book sales at NIS 4.8 million. Lapid's staff responded by saying, "If only."

The MKs who agreed to release their financial information were Labor party chairman Shelly Yacimovich; Meretz chairman Zahava Gal-On; Knesset State Control Committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union ); Nino Abesadze (Kadima ); Ibrahim Sarsur (United Arab List-Ta'al ); Shachiv Shnaan (Atzmaut ); and Einat Wilf (Atzmaut ).

Defense Minister Ehud Barak, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi.



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