Knesset members oppose Shaked initiative

Initiative to restrict gratuitous bills and strengthen parliamentary government supervision provokes stormy Knesset committee debate.

Hezky Baruch,

In committee
In committee
Hezky Baruch

The Knesset committee headed by MK Yoav Kish (Likud) was convened today (Monday) to discuss Ministers Ayelet Shaked and Yariv Levin's initiative to restrict private legislation while strengthening Knesset supervision over government activity.

At the outset Chairman Kish said, "If the ministers and the government do not respect the Knesset, it will come at a cost."

MK Yoav Ben-Tzur added, "This is dictatorial; it's an anti-democratic step and we will not agree to it. If we cannot enact legislation then why are we here? Are we posturing? No-one has a monopoly on brains."

MK Mickey Rosenthal (Zionist Union), told the hearing, "Shaked herself submitted many bills in the previous Knesset before being appointed minister and now Knesset members have become a nuisance to her. The Ministerial committee discussed almost no law in a pertinent way."

"If the minister thinks that changes are needed in the Knesset's work, she must come and persuade the Knesset members. Certainly not to dictate from above. This is a lopsided discussion. We need to discuss how to strengthen and improve the Knesset's work, not how to relieve the Ministerial Legislation Committee of work and what 'goodies' can be thrown them in return.

"The government should not interfere so blatantly in the Knesset's work. It is possible that there is an excess of legislation, but the bills are almost the only effective tool remaining to the lone Knesset member," added Rosenthal.

MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) attacked the initiative: "The unilateral plan to restrict legislation submitted by the Minister damages the foundations of democracy. We must fight to ensure it does not become a tool of exclusion and silencing opposition MKs; I intend to work to make Ministerial Legislation Committee decisions and discussions reasoned and open to public scrutiny. Additionally, I will work to establish a committee for proper implementation of approved legislation. Unfortunately the government's failure has led to many laws becoming a dead letter in the law books. The Minister has more appropriate legislative tools to reduce excess legislation without silencing Knesset members."

MK Rachel Azaria (Kulanu) presented a complex stance, "Although I am a conservative MK in my bills - I do not produce masses of bills - but criticism of 'surplus legislation' is a way to bear down on MKs. This is cynical exploitation because the public does not sufficiently appreciate our work. Why do MK's propose bills? Because we lack enough supervisory tools; if they would give us more tools, legislation will decrease on its own.

"Many government offices were established together with the establishment of the State, and many subjects that have developed do not reach ministerial care, such as changes in the labor market and longevity. This is reflected in preschools for example - nobody is legally designated as responsible and a law is needed to correct this situation. It is very infuriating that government ministers hitchhike on the fact that the Knesset's status has diminished, yet rather than empowering Knesset members they restrict them. It is no coincidence that there are 120 Knesset members; we represent the public when the government represents them less ... If you restrict legislation, chances are that disadvantaged populations won't be dealt with as they have no representation and laws that affect the majority of the population will be given attention for votes...." she added.