What Benefits Will Olmert Receive?

The treasury's accountant general, Shuki Oren, will find it difficult to approve various benefits for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after he leaves office - since Oren denied former president Moshe Katsav similar perks.

Further complicating matters is the question of whether Olmert will also resign from the Knesset or stay on as an MK.

As a former prime minister, Olmert would be entitled to an office, aides, secretaries, a driver and car, health insurance and security guards - totaling about NIS 1.5-2 million a year. These benefits would last for five years after he steps down.

He would also receive a monthly pension of NIS 41,000, the same as his present salary, due to his many years of public service in the Knesset and as the mayor of Jerusalem. Other benefits would include a daily newspaper subscription and NIS 8,400 a year for telephone costs.

He will also be entitled to NIS 14,700 for moving expenses and three months of storage after leaving his official residence - or three months of rent.

However, Oren will have trouble approving everything except the pension, after he denied Katsav's recent request for an office in the Azrieli tower and a brand-new Audi A-8.

Last year, the Knesset Finance Committee voted to deny such benefits to a former president or prime minister who was convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. But the committee did not deal with a situation where the person in question has been indicted or forced to resign after being under police investigation.

As long as Olmert has not yet been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude, Oren will be forced to maneuver between granting him benefits and the Katsav precedent. For example, he could grant Olmert a temporary office in a government building, or grant him use of a used government car, as he offered Katsav.

The Finance Committee has yet to meet to discuss the matter, but Oren hopes now that Avishay Braverman (Labor) has become its chair, the committee will talk about it.

If Olmert chooses to continue as an MK after resigning as prime minister - and retains his parliamentary immunity - he would not be entitled to any of the benefits, though he would still be provided with a car, security guards and an additional aide, in addition to all his rights as an MK.