A Move to Increase Knesset to 180 MKs

Kadima MK Prof. Menachem Ben-Sasson, who chairs the Knesset Law Committee, supports increasing the Knesset from its current 120 MKs to 180.

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Yechiel Spira, | updated: 05:39

Ben-Sasson explains that in previous governments, about one-third of the MKs have served as cabinet ministers or deputy ministers, leaving regular parliamentary work in the hands of only 80 lawmakers. On an average, an MK serves on six different committees, Ben-Sasson explains, making their effectiveness on any one committee somewhat limited.

Adding 60 MKs, Ben-Sasson feels, would result in MKs serving on an average of two committees, permitting them to focus their energies on those committees. Ben-Sasson believes expanding the number of MKs would be a positive step towards revamping the political system.

If his proposal is not accepted, Ben-Sasson plans to support the Norwegian Law, which would compel MKs appointed to a cabinet position to resign from the Knesset. Their Knesset slot would go to the next in line on that party’s ballot.

Among the outspoken opponents of the plan is Prof. Shevach Weiss, a former Knesset Speaker. Weiss stated that at present, the Knesset is not overwhelmingly popular and a call to increase its size by 1/3 would be met with angry public accusations of wasting additional taxpayer funds. Weiss stated that if the Knesset enjoyed widespread public support, such a move might be feasible.

Prof. Arik Carmon, who heads the Israel Democracy Institute, came out in support of the move. He explained on Monday that at present, the Knesset is unable to carry out one of its primary tasks - overseeing and monitoring the performance of the cabinet. He added the individual burden of MKs would be lessened by the new plan, permitting each elected official to carry out his/her duties more efficiently. This would then make the Knesset a more attractive option to higher caliber individuals, Carmon says, who might as a result opt to consider running for an elected post.

Ben-Sasson stated that with the opening of the Knesset winter session, he plans to form a subcommittee to probe the proposed change in the structure of the Knesset. He added that in internal Kadima Party discussions on the idea, the prime minister and others expressed their support for the plan.