A new set of guidelines for MK behavior, eight years in the making, will be brought for Knesset Ethics Committee approval in two weeks’ time.
Possibly the most interesting recommendation is that Knesset Members who curse or speak rudely to a colleague in the plenum would be liable to be fined up to a full month’s salary – some 34,000 shekels.
Until now, the Ethics Committee was authorized to fine MKs only for extended absences from Knesset sessions or for “working on the side.” This is the first time fines will be able to levied for behavioral infractions.
Work on new guidelines began in 2003 when a public committee was formed by then-Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin – he is now in his second, non-consecutive term as Speaker – to formulate recommendations. The committee was headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Yitzchak Zamir.
After the Zamir committee completed its work, a special Knesset subcommittee headed by MK Chaim Oron reviewed its recommendations, and decided to adopt most of them. The next step is for the revised set of guidelines to be approved by the Knesset Ethics Committee.
MK Oron, a 23-year Knesset veteran, announced this month that he would be resigning from the Knesset – though he did not specify a date. He heads the Meretz party, which received only three Knesset mandates in the last election. Ex-MK Zahava Gal’on will take his place if he leaves before the end of the current Knesset term.
Another important proposed change in guidelines for MKs’ behavior concerns their financial disclosure statements. The status quo is that when MKs submit their disclosures, the statements remain locked in a safe under the auspices of the Knesset Speaker. The proposed change would require the Knesset Legal Counsel to review each disclosure with the MK who filed it, and to recommend changes or additions – after which time the disclosure would remain classified.
House Committee Chairman MK Yariv Levine (Likud) said he hopes, but is skeptical, that the changes would receive the support of the requisite majority of MKs.