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New bill allows public to petition Knesset to discuss issues
By LAHAV HARKOV
04/12/2013
The legislation, which brings a practice from the European Parliament to the Knesset, passed its preliminary reading.
 
The public will be able to more actively participate in the Knesset’s work, as a bill proposed by MK Hilik Bar (Labor) allowing people to sign petitions on the Knesset’s website, is on its way to becoming law.

The legislation, which brings a practice from the European Parliament to the Knesset, passed its preliminary reading Wednesday with 40 in favor and one opposed.

“This is an unprecedented, historic bill that changes the way we relate to the citizens who sent us to the Knesset to represent them, and their involvement in our work,” Bar said.

The Labor MK said his bill will make the Knesset more open and accessible, and that lawmakers will hear what the public has to say in an official, organized way.

“Not all the wisdom in the country is found in its 120 MKs – it can mostly be found in the public,” Bar added.

According to the bill, any citizen or group of citizens can submit a petition to the Knesset that has to do with the country’s activities or directly influences the signatories’ lives.

An example of a petition will appear on the Knesset’s website.

A petition review committee will be formed if the bill becomes law, which will determine whether or not the petitions are acceptable or not.

If it is, the petition will be brought to the relevant committee to discuss it.

All acceptable petitions will be published on the Knesset website and citizens will be able to add their signatures to them.

“In recent years, we saw a dip in the public’s faith in government institutions. It turns out that the public has difficulty finding tools to influence its representatives when there aren’t elections. The goal of this bill is to fix that by creating a mechanism for the public to influence the Knesset’s debates,” Bar said.

Bar added that he has “no doubt that in the age of social media, it’s easier to unite the public around interesting topics, and for the Knesset to be aware of what the nation is saying, and not give up on its democratic model.”
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