Following the abrupt withdrawal of Labor MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer from the presidential race on Saturday night after he was hit with allegations of financial impropriety, candidates Reuven Rivlin, Dalia Itzik, and Dalia Dorner published statements detailing their own monetary assets on Sunday.
Itzik was the first of the remaining five contenders for Israel’s highest civil post who chose to publicize her own financial records, spelling out on Sunday the sources for the funds that allowed her to purchase the three apartments she owns.
Itzik posted an explanation detailing her financial situation on her Facebook page, and urged the other candidates to follow suit as a response to growing scrutiny of the candidates’ monetary dealings.
“As someone who believes in the importance of the presidential position and its moral authority, I also believe that the president must act with transparency and set an example,” she wrote.
Itzik said she had requested that her accountant produce a financial statement, which she will publish in full. “Until the formal paperwork is completed, it’s important that you know that I’ve worked all my life,” she wrote — beginning in fourth grade.
Itzik said she and her husband have lived in a “modest” apartment in Jerusalem for decades. In 2009, the two purchased a second apartment in the capital for NIS 923,000 ($266,000), using money drawn from the couple’s employer-matching savings plan. Last year, Itzik put that property up for sale, and is presently in the “final stages of the sale.” The Itziks then proceeded to buy a luxury apartment in Tel Aviv, which was bought using NIS 500,000 ($144,000) received from her husband’s father, NIS 450,000 ($130,000) from a pension fund, a NIS 750,000 ($216,000) loan taken from her brother, and NIS 1 million ($289,000) taken from personal savings, and a NIS 1.9 million ($549,000) mortgage.
“That’s the whole story,” Itzik concluded. “Like many of my generation who worked hard, we’ve achieved relative economic stability.”
Front-runner Reuven Rivlin also publicized his economic situation on Sunday afternoon. “Every elected official needs to stand before the public in an open and transparent manner with regard to his income and property, in order to prevent slander and speculation about his [financial] independence and purity of judgement,” he said.
The former Knesset speaker said he owns a three-bedroom Jerusalem apartment purchased in 1973 for NIS 220,000 ($63,000); has NIS 450,000 ($130,000) in savings, NIS 300,000 ($86,000) in investments and a car worth NIS 60,000 ($17,000). In addition, his monthly earnings are NIS 25,000 ($7,200) for his after-tax MK salary, an additional NIS 1,000 ($289) stipend for having served as a minister, NIS 600 ($173) from the Bar Association, and NIS 2,500 ($722) from the National Insurance Institute and pension.
Former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner followed suit, notifying the public of her NIS 35,000 ($10,000) monthly pension, an apartment in Jerusalem’s Beit HaKerem neighborhood where she has resided since 1974, and a 2004 Volvo.
Nobel chemist Dan Shechtman said he would publicize his own finances later Sunday.
MK Meir Sheetrit was the only contender with a political background to forgo the public declaration, saying he would submit his finances to the Knesset Ethics Committee, but not to the public.
Ben-Eliezer formally dropped his bid for Israel’s presidency Saturday, three days before the election and a day after he was questioned by police for alleged financial impropriety.
“With a very heavy heart, I have made the decision to withdraw from the race for the presidency,” Ben Eliezer wrote in a Facebook post. “I have had my good name since the day I was born, and it is my intention to keep my name, honor and truth.”
Ben-Eliezer’s bid for the presidency was ended after police questioned him for nearly five hours, under caution, on suspicion that he illegally received millions of shekels from various sources, using some of the money to purchase his luxury apartment home in Jaffa.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss whether to postpone the elections in light of the recent developments, and ultimately announced that the vote will proceed as planned on Tuesday, conducted by a secret ballot of Knesset members. The president serves a single, seven-year term.
Last month, Energy Minister Silvan Shalom chose not to run for the presidency in the wake of allegations of sexual impropriety; the allegations were not substantiated.
Adiv Sterman, Gavriel Fiske and Spencer Ho contributed to this report.