A police investigation over how MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer financed the purchase of a luxury apartment in Jaffa forced him to drop out of this week’s race for the presidency. However, public pressure for the candidates to disclose their financial assets has now yielded some information from the remaining candidates for the largely ceremonial post.
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Click here to read about the five candidates in the presidential election.
At the request of TheMarker, three of the five remaining candidates – Reuven Rivlin, Dan Shechtman and Dalia Dorner – produced partial reports. Meir Sheetrit declined to do so, while Dalia Itzik said she had asked her accountant to prepare one. The president is chosen by secret ballot in the Knesset, with the vote set to take place Tuesday.
Rivlin’s response was the most detailed. He reported owning a four-room apartment in Jerusalem’s Yefeh Nof neighborhood, with an estimated value of 2.5 million to 3 million shekels ($722,000 to $866,000). He said he purchased the apartment in 1973 for 220,000 shekels and owns no other real estate.
He reported holding about 450,000 shekels in advanced training funds (kranot hishtalmut) and provident funds, an investment portfolio of 300,000 shekels and a 60,000 shekel car.
On top of his after-tax MK’s salary of 25,000 shekels a month, Rivlin, 75, said he receives a pension of 1,000 shekels a month after taxes, 600 shekels from his law office and about 2,500 shekels in old-age benefits from the National Insurance Institute.
Rivlin, who declined the use of an official residence when he served as Knesset speaker, has told associates privately that, if elected, he will continue to live in his apartment and commute to the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
Shechtman, whose Nobel Prize included a $1.8 million award, reported owning three homes – one valued at 3 million shekels in Haifa’s Denya neighborhood, another in Ein Ha’emek near Haifa, and a house in the United States worth $190,000. He didn’t disclose information on savings or investments or a car, but he did report pretax income of 35,000 shekels a month.
Dorner, a retired Supreme Court justice, said she owns a four-room, third-floor walkup in Jerusalem’s Beit Hakerem neighborhood, which she bought in 1984. It has an estimated value of 1.8 million to 2.2 million shekels. Dorner did not disclose whether she has savings or investments, but said all of her regular income – about 35,000 shekels a month – comes from a pension she receives as a former judge and army officer. She also owns a 2004 Volvo.
Sheetrit, now an MK, declined to reveal his private assets, but told TheMarker that he does file the required disclosure statement to the Knesset or the state comptroller, as required by law.
“All the details about my family assets appear there,” he added. “If the attorney general asks me to reveal my assets, I would have no problem doing it.”
Two years ago, Forbes Magazine estimated his family fortune at 55 million shekels, but Sheetrit told TheMarker yesterday that this reflected the value of his wife Ruti’s advertising and public relations agency. “All my life, I was never anything but a public official, and my salary was always the salary of a public official,” he said.
Itzik, a former Knesset speaker now retired from politics, said Sunday she has instructed her accountant to prepare an asset disclosure report, which will be released publicly. It was not clear whether it will be released before Tuesday's presidential vote.
What is known is that she gets a gross monthly pension of 42,000 shekels for her service as an MK, cabinet member and time in the civil service.
“My husband and I have lived for decades in a modest Jerusalem apartment,” she wrote on a Facebook post, referring to a Ramat Sharett home estimated to be worth 2.2 million shekels.
Itzik said she and her husband bought a second, small apartment for 923,000 shekels in the city using monies from advanced training funds. A third apartment she bought for 4.5 million shekels last year from a friend, Ronit Raphael – in Tel Aviv’s Gan Ha’ir complex – was financed with 500,000 shekels from her father-in-law, 450,000 shekels in pension money, a loan from her brother of about 750,000 shekels, as well as about 1 million shekels her husband held in savings. A mortgage financed the remainder.