A general view shows the plenum during the swearing-in ceremony of the 20th Knesset, the new Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem March 31, 2015..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset will form a new professional department to combat a phenomenon by which ministers do not implement laws passed by the legislature.
There are 51 laws passed by the Knesset for which ministers have not passed the necessary regulations, also known as “secondary legislation,” that work out the technical details needed to implement them.
Examples include a law regulating the way rabbinical courts work, which was supposed to be addressed by the Justice Ministry by 2004; and a law requiring the Defense Ministry to arrange for the operation of the Fund to Clear Mines by July 2011 – neither of which were implemented.
The new Knesset unit, announced this week, is called Katef, the Hebrew word for shoulder, which is also an acronym for “Knesset Coordination and Oversight.” It will be led by Dr. Shirley Avrami, who has managed the Knesset Research and Information Center for the past 11 years.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein had the new department established, after extensive discussion in the Knesset House Committee, as a way to strengthen the body’s role in overseeing government actions. The fact that the Knesset does not realize its oversight potential weakens the legislature, he said.
“There is no doubt that the Knesset’s job as a legislature carries great weight in the Israeli public and it passes laws intensively compared to other parliaments in the world,” Edelstein said.
However, when it comes to the Knesset’s other job, oversight, “a lot more can be done, and the time has come for the Knesset to emphasize it more, and in a professional way,” he added.
The new unit will work in cooperation with Knesset committees, legal offices, Research and Information Center and other departments, and its goals will be determined by the coalition and opposition.
Meanwhile, on Monday, Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee chairman Eli Alalouf (Kulanu) lamented that 10 laws the panel dealt with were not being implemented by the Labor and Welfare Ministry and the Economics Ministry.
The laws included hiring workers with disabilities in public offices; regulating payments to foster families; and keeping the information of foster children private.
“This seriously hurts the public and its trust in the government,” Alalouf said. “It’s not enough to run and pass law after law. They have to know to implement them. Look at foster families, they have to pay every shekel out of their own money and then chase after the government for compensation. That is hell.”