No Perks for You, Knesset Tells Only Some Convicted Politicos

The Knesset Finance Committee decided yesterday that senior government officials, including presidents, ministers, deputy ministers and judges, both past and future, who have been convicted of crimes of moral turpitude since August 22, 2007 will no longer be entitled to receive a telephone line and two newspapers at the taxpayers' expense for the duration of their lifetimes.

The decision means that elected and appointed government officials convicted of such crimes prior to August 22, 2007, such as former Shas leader Aryeh Deri, will still be entitled to the free perks.

The approval yesterday replaces an earlier decision to cancel the perks retroactively, starting at the state's inception.

The Finance Committee's decision will affect two ministers who were recently convicted of crimes of moral turpitude - ex-finance minister Avraham Hirchson and former health minister, deputy health minister and labor and welfare minister Shlomo Benizri.

It may also apply to former president Moshe Katsav, if he is convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude - conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.

The committee rejected a proposal by MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) to extend the ban on state sponsored perks to ministers sentenced to prison for any crime.