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Extra-parliamentary Income-producing Activities Debated by Knesset Unit

The Knesset’s House Committee began debate Tuesday on the controversial issue of Knesset members engaging in income-producing activities outside of their parliamentary duties.

The committee was reported to be divided on the matter, though all agreed that the rules should be tightened to avoid conflicts of interest. At present, Knesset members are permitted to earn outside income, though they are forbidden to take salaried positions while serving.

Instead, many are employed as attorneys or consultants to large business firms. Committee chairman Micha Reiser, Likud-Herut, who does not earn outside income, said he is firmly opposed to a total ban on such activity.

He said the rules should be applied more strictly so that, for example, no MK could appear on behalf of a client before a central or local government authority. He noted that members of the British and other European parliaments are allowed to earn private income within the bounds of an ethics code. U.S. Congressmen, who are highly paid, are permitted to earn lecture fees, he said.

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