Some of the Things the Knesset Pays For

We do want our elected reps to stay awake, right?

On Tuesday, the Knesset Budget Committee will be meeting to discuss and presumably approve an NIS 900,000 payment to the former concessionaire of the House's cafeterias, one Motti Simcha.

Avi Balashnikov, director-general of the Knesset, announced that Simcha will be paid out of the Knesset budget.

Simcha had sued the Knesset for NIS 2.3 million, claiming unpaid debts to him. Retired judge Boaz Okon agreed to arbitrate between parliament and Mr Simcha, to avoid lengthy legal proceedings. Finally Okon ruled that the House should pay Simcha NIS 900,000 and the parties agreed.

Nine months ago, another concessionaire began running the Knesset cafeterias: Coffee Shoppe, chosen by tender.

Tomorrow the Budget Committee will be discussing another Balashnikov initiative: that it repay NIS 100,000 in legal costs to Knesset members who had to hire lawyers of their own. Ran Cohen of Meretz wanted NIS 36,747 in such legal costs and Michael Melchior of Labor wanted to NIS 25,723. The rest of the amount would be a pool to cover such costs, Balashnikov explains.

Cohen's case involves alleged slander. He was sued by Rabbi Avinoam Horwitz in a civil suit, at the Magistrates Court. Cohen argues that Horwitz has no case at all, and that his words were covered by parliamentary immunity. The court agreed and rejected the suit against Cohen, but legal costs had been incurred.

Cohen argued that he had heard the rabbi praise the suicide of an Israeli soldier, Israel Weinman, and had asked the Education Minister to investigate the matter.

Regarding Melchior, he wants legal aid for a civil suit against him after he granted an interview to the Voice of Israel and argued with the plaintiff, Erez Urieli. The court threw out the case, on the grounds that Melchior was covered by parliamentary immunity in any case. But costs, costs there were.