Benny Begin, a minister-without-portfolio in the Netanyahu government, set a hard-to-beat record for least expenses this past year: zero.
Statistics released for this past year show that MK Lia Shemtov, a second-term Knesset member of the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party, had more expenses than any of her colleagues: NIS 95,118. She spent the largest amount, 32,359 shekels, on professional media consulting, and another 25,285 on secretarial work.
She was followed on the list of least spendthrift Knesset members by MKs Haneh Sweid (Hadash), Amir Peretz (Labor), Chaim Oron (Meretz), and Robert Ilatuv (Israel Our Home), each of whom put in for roughly NIS 65,000.
Among the ministers, Environment Minister Gilad Erdan asked to be reimbursed for the largest amount: 62,138 shekels.
Minister Begin, for whom this is a fourth Knesset term – he served from 1988 until 1999, and rejoined the Knesset last year – served in the past as Minister of Science, and now serves as Minister-without-Portfolio. Contacted by Israel National News about his “low” score on the list of expenses, the son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin said, “I don’t know what you’re referring to. This is the first I’m hearing of a list of expenses, and I have nothing to say… I’m sure those who spent had reason to do so; apparently I didn’t. I have a driver, but that’s a necessity for security reasons. I don’t engage in comparisons, and I have nothing else to say about it.”
MK Shemtov’s office released the following statement in response to the report: “MK Shemtov uses the budget allocated to her via the Knesset for the purpose of fulfilling her job. As opposed to the MKs who serve also as Cabinet Ministers and who benefit from the ministry’s budget, the only budget serving an MK for the purpose of running his/her office, including printing, spokespersons, office equipment and the like, is the budgetary clause known as ‘contact with the voter.’ MK Shemtov used her budget in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the purpose for which the budget was allocated, to fulfill her job in the best way as a representative working on behalf of and for the public.”