Ethics C'tee Won't Fine Ramon for Knesset Absence

The Knesset Ethics Committee has decided not to fine MK Haim Ramon for his eight-month absence from the House during his trial. The committee also recommended looking into the possibility of a law that would allow the suspension of an MK while on trial.

Ramon stopped coming to the Knesset after he resigned as justice minister on August 22, and missed all 68 days of the Knesset's winter session. During this time he received a gross salary of NIS 178,000.

According to the Knesset's ethics charter, an MK who is absent for more than two straight months or more than one-third of the meetings of one session must present "reasonable justification," and the Ethics Committee may then fine him or her. In Ramon's case, the committee accepted Ramon's statement that he had done everything he could to shorten the process. Ramon also argued that if he had resigned, his pension would be higher than his salary.

"Everything I had to say I wrote to the Ethics Committee," was all Ramon said in response.

Two other ministers also exceeded the limit of allowed absences: Former defense minister Amir Peretz and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz. The committee did not fine Peretz, but accepted his explanation that his work-load prevented him from participating. The committee did not accept Mofaz's explanation that his responsibility for the strategic dialogue and his membership in the security cabinet required his absence from the country, and decided to enter a remark in the protocol.