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Diplomacy & Politics
LAHAV HARKOV \
'Lobbying reform law will be passed in next Knesset'
Likud MK Reuven Rivlin.
(photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin committed to regulating the activities of
lobbyists in the Knesset, accepting the Israel Democracy Institute’s position
paper on the issue on Thursday.Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer presented
Rivlin with the IDI’s recommendations including amending the Lobbyist Law so
that breaking it is a criminal offense, regulating lobbyists’ connections with
the Knesset and its committees and requiring lobbyists to submit yearly reports
of their activities.“The Knesset is not trying to wipe out the
profession of lobbying, but regulate its work with decision makers,” Rivlin
explained. “Balanced, organized lobbying is legitimate and even welcome in a
parliamentary democracy.”However, the Knesset speaker said, any hint
that MKs’ independent judgment could be harmed must be removed, to avoid
accusations of connections between wealth and government, which lead the public
not to trust the Knesset and MKs.Rivlin said that the IDI report will be
brought to a vote as a bill in the next Knesset.“The Knesset sees
lobbying as a positive thing when it exposes MKs to information they cannot
access easily and clarifies the different effects of laws and improves
discussion,” Rivlin said.“But the Knesset will fight lobbying that tries
to threaten MKs, puts an emphasis on relations with the rich, and ‘black’
lobbying, which is not legitimate, but unfortunately, not illegal.”Other
recommendations include forbidding MKs to speak to lobbyists during committee
meetings and votes and requiring lobbyists to sign an ethical agreement before
being allowed into the Knesset, as well as requiring other people who enter the
Knesset to commit that they will not lobby MKs.Rivlin called the
lobbyists’ ethical code a positive step, adding that each lobbyist will be
personally responsible to follow it.The Forum for Government
Connections, which consists of most Israeli lobbying firms, released the ethical
code in May after a series of meetings in which lobbyists discussed the proper
way to work with elected officials and government bureaucrats.The code
is based on those of the Association of Accredited Lobbyists to the European
Union and the American League of Lobbyists, two of the strictest lobbying groups
in the world, according to the Forum.Lobbyists have faced increased
scrutiny and criticism since February, when Channel 2 investigative program Uvda
broadcast a report which used hidden cameras to expose employees of Gilad
Lobbying bragging about manipulating MKs and the Knesset Center for Research and
Information to increase their clients’ revenues.Gilad Lobbying was not
included in the process of writing the ethical code.
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