(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein demanded Thursday that party leaders assign MKs to legislative committees as soon as possible, so the 20th Knesset can start working in earnest.
Nearly two months after the 20th Knesset was inaugurated, it remains mostly idle, because none of the committees, which prepare legislation for plenum votes and oversee government activity, has chairpeople or even members yet.
“Even though it has been two weeks since the government was sworn in and even though the factions were already asked to submit their members’ assignments to Knesset committees, some of the factions have yet to do so,” Edelstein wrote in a letter to the heads of all the Knesset’s factions.
Edelstein said “delaying the manning of Knesset committees does not allow it to begin regular parliamentary activity...
and more than anything else, it increases the public’s distrust in the legislature.”
The Knesset speaker asked the faction leaders submit the assignments without delay, so that full activity can begin next week.
Earlier Thursday, Edelstein told Army Radio that the Knesset’s inactivity is “driving [him] crazy.”
“If there aren’t committees by next week, I guess I’ll have to take additional steps,” he warned. “I can only pressure and urge [the party leaders], but I cannot vote instead of all the MKs, so I hope everyone will come to their senses.”
On Monday, Edelstein wrote a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling him he must make sure the ministers show the Knesset proper respect and arrive on time for their shift in the plenum, where they are supposed to address motions to the agenda and answer parliamentary questions.
However, on Wednesday, the ministers did not pay the message any heed; National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz and Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman did not appear in the plenum to respond to MKs’ petitions.
Remarking on Litzman’s absence, MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union) said “this situation must be fixed, and fast.”
“Again and again we have to highlight the outrageous and predatory way the fourth Netanyahu government treats public representatives. There are rules for the relationship between the government and the Knesset,” she said.
On Thursday, Deputy Knesset Speaker Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), wrote to Edelstein that “Steinitz and Litzman were absent without sending any message and without apologizing, and no one responded to the motions to the agenda.”
Next week, the Likud is expected to appoint its backbench MKs to posts as deputy ministers, Knesset committee chairmen, and deputy Knesset speakers. MK Jackie Levy is expected to be appointed deputy construction minister.
MK Abraham Naguise is expected to be appointed to head the Knesset Absorption Committee, MK David Amsalem as Interior and Environment Committee head, and David Bitan as head of the Knesset House Committee. MK Yoav Kisch will become head of the House Committee in a year when Bitan is set to become a deputy minister.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.