A Knesset committee on Tuesday debated the request of MKs Yael German (Yesh Atid) and Shelly Yechimovich (Zionist Camp) to cancel the increase in salaries for MKs, which is due to take effect in January, and to essentially stop linking the salary of MKs to the average market salary.
Currently, MKs make a whopping 40,029 shekels (nearly $10,200) in gross monthly wages, meaning they are paid nearly half a million shekels (over $122,000) each year, an incredibly high income in Israeli terms.
The committee decided not to perform a regular update of the salary in January, but instead to raise it by 1% less than the average market salary, with no impact from the increase in minimum wages. In effect, the decision means the MKs voted to raise their salaries by between 700 and 1,400 shekels per month.
"The decision to leave the exaggerated increase in the wages of MKs aside from lowly, cosmetic changes is a disgrace and shame to the Knesset and to MKs, but unfortunately it seems all are shameless," said Yechimovich.
"It's a shame that MKs – who fervently fight to raise (their) wages by 1,000 shekels a month at a time when the salaries of the public are forgotten and harmed – don't find the courage and strength to fight in a similar manner for the public interest."
Yechimovich said "today I am embarrassed to be a member of the club of those who keep the cream for themselves."
"A waste of public monies"
MK Yair Lapid, whose Yesh Atid party is donating the last increase in salary that they received in January 2015, promised that his party would continue the fight against the method by which MKs' salaries are fixed.
"It is a disgrace that members of the Knesset insist on continuing to fix their own salaries. Today there was an opportunity to do the right thing – to implement the findings of the committee of Chaim Levy and to determine that members of Knesset will give up on fixing their own salary raise," said Lapid.
"We will continue to fight because it is insufferable and scandalous that people here can't close the month, and members of Knesset raise their own salaries."
German for her part said, "the Knesset committee today affirmed the absurd situation by which members of Knesset fix their own wages. This is a waste of public monies for an unnecessary raise in salary."
"The mechanism for determining the wages of members of Knesset must change so that more increases won't occur. According to the current situation, the more unemployed people that there are and the more the minimum wage increases – the wages of members of Knesset will rise."
MK David Biton (Likud), chairman of the committee, said that in the meeting "we said that the moment the finance committee creates a unification of the salary in the public sphere we will return to debate."
"I made known that I am against changing the method and will hold a vote to leave the linkage (to market averages – ed.) as it is, but we will neutralize the influence of the increase in the minimum wage on our index."
Biton proposed reducing 1% from the average salary used in fixing MKs' wages and allowing the finance committee over the course of 2016 to create a unification in the salaries of senior earners in the public sector.