Ex-Jerusalem mayor poised to overtake Netanyahu as richest MK
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Ex-Jerusalem mayor poised to overtake Netanyahu as richest MK

Nir Barkat will be the wealthiest candidate in the April 9 elections, followed by his sister-in-law, political newcomer Alona Barkat

Nir Barkat at a Likud Party event in Tel Aviv on March 25, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Nir Barkat at a Likud Party event in Tel Aviv on March 25, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

While last week’s political merger between Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid has injected considerable uncertainty into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection campaign, there is one title the premier is all but certain to lose — that of richest Knesset member.

That honor will instead go to former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, according to a list of Israel’s wealthiest politicians released Sunday by Forbes.

Barkat, who the business magazine estimated is worth NIS 500 million ($138,458 million), is number nine on Likud’s electoral slate after an impressive showing in its primary and, with the ruling party currently polling around 30 seats, is expected to easily win a Knesset seat.

Before entering Jerusalem municipal politics, Barkat and his brother Eli Barkat founded an anti-virus firm that they would later transform into a successful investment fund in high-tech companies.

Following Barkat on the list was his sister-in-law Alona Barkat with a projected worth of NIS 460 million ($127,381 million), much of which also comes from tech investments.

Alona Barkat, who is known for owning the Hapoel Beersheba soccer team, earlier this month joined the New Right party and was placed number three on its slate.

Hapoel Beersheba soccer team owner Alona Barkat gives a press conference in Beersheba, on February 7, 2019. (Flash90)

Among active politicians, Forbes ranked Netanyahu as the richest, with NIS 50 million ($13.8 million) in assets, much of which is believed to have come from consulting work and lectures he gave during his sabbatical from politics after losing the 1999 elections to Labor’s Ehud Barak.

After Netanyahu came Education Minister Naftali Bennett, a co-leader of the New Right, with NIS 32 million ($8.861 million). Bennett was a co-founder of the tech company Cyota, which was bought out by US-based RSA Security in 2005.

Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay, a former CEO of the Bezeq telecoms giant, was next, with an estimated NIS 29 million ($8.03 million) in wealth, followed by Likud Minister Haim Katz with NIS 28 million ($7.75 million). Katz was a head of the Israel Aerospace Industries workers union before entering politics.

Trailing Katz was Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid, a former television host, with NIS 25 million ($6.9 million).

Other notable names on the list included former military chief Benny Gantz, who last week merged his Israel Resilience party with Yesh Atid to form the Blue and White Alliance.

According to Forbes, Gantz is worth around NIS 8 million ($2.2 million), though the magazine noted this did not include his military pension, which it said could total NIS 20 million ($5.5 million) by the time the 59-year-old retired general turns 80.

Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak attends a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, at the Ben Zvi Institute in Jerusalem on June 5, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Though no longer a serving or prospective lawmaker, third overall on the list was Barak, whom the magazine included because of his continued political activity.

Barak’s wealth was put at NIS 120 million ($33.2 million), with Forbes saying he saw the largest jump in his net worth thanks to his investment in medical marijuana firm InterCure, an increase in value of his real estate holdings and money he has accumulated from giving paid lectures and consulting.

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