With His 50m Shekel Fortune, Netanyahu Is Israel’s Fourth Richest Politician

The Israel edition of Forbes magazine released a ranking of Israel's richest politicians shortly after Netanyahu was ordered to pay back $300,000 he accepted from a wealthy cousin to cover his legal fees

Former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Prime Minister Netanyahu, respectively first and fourth richest politicians in Israel according to the Forbes ranking, speak in Jerusalem, on February 23, 2015.

The same day that a state comptroller committee again denied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s request to receive funding from two tycoons to cover his legal fees, the Israel edition of Forbes magazine estimated the prime minister’s personal wealth at 50 million shekels ($13.9 million).

The money, which Forbes said Netanyahu earned as a lecturer and consultant to the Israeli tech company BATM after his defeat in the 1999 elections, made him Israel’s fourth-wealthiest politician, according to the survey.

It was a distant fourth. No. 1 is Nir Barkat, the former Jerusalem mayor now running for the Knesset on the Likud list. Thanks to his high-tech investments, in particular Check Point Software Technologies, Barkat has an estimated net worth of 500 million shekels ($138 million) Forbes said.

Close behind is Alona Barkat, Nir Barkat’s sister-in-law and the owner of Hapoal Be’er Sheva, with an estimated 460 million shekels. Ehud Barak, the former chief of staff and prime minister, is pegged at 120 million ($33 million).

Netanyahu’s wealth backs up the state comptroller’s argument that “before a minister turns to the generosity of the wealthy, he must exhaust his resources and wealth” and that “the capital declarations submitted by the applicant indicate that the applicant is a well-to-do person.”

Others in the top wealth rankings of politicians are Education Minister and Hayamin Hehadash leader Naftali Bennett (32 million shekels), Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay (29 million) and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid (25 million).

Slightly ahead of Lapid was Labor Minister and Likud MK Haim Katz. His fortune of 28 million shekels raises the question of how someone who has spent his entire working life as a Knesset member and union leader at Israel Aerospace Industries amassed such a fortune. Forbes said Katz’s money is invested in real estate and the capital market, in particular shares in the energy company Isramco.