Knesset session 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
If it seemed in the past near-impossible to follow the course of legislation for
any given bill as it winds its way through ministerial committees, Knesset
hearings and ministry follow-ups, a new government initiative aims to take much
of the mystery out of the process.
Key officials from the Knesset, the
Justice Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office presented on Tuesday a new
“virtual cloud” that seeks to make it easier for citizens to keep track of bills
that are important to them.
The joint project will lead to the
establishment of what they described as a “national legislative portal which
will constitute real democratic progress and improve accessibility for the
The project’s Hebrew name, “Smart Cloud,” employs an acronym of
“the legislative, government, Knesset” cloud.
Smart Cloud’s developers
emphasized that the project would maintain the principle of separation of powers
to ensure that the Knesset and the government continue to balance each
They emphasized that it will increase transparency, and said they
hoped it would streamline the legislative process itself, by allowing all of the
organizations relevant to the specific legislation to receive “live”
On a technical level, the initiative will work through a special
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Government and Knesset representatives will update the relevant
legislative information, working through the independent websites of each
The portal is expected to officially launch and be ready
for public use in approximately eight months. At that point, sponsoring
government agencies plan to encourage the public to visit the site and pass
their judgement on the legislation they find there.
The Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development has requested that certain legislation,
especially bills focusing on economic issues, also be translated and made
available in English.
One of the project’s sponsors, Knesset
director-general Dan Landau, said the initiative would go so far as to change
the legislative effort within the Knesset itself.
“The legislators will
no longer have to wait for long back-and-forth internal correspondence and
committee meetings in order to be updated on the status of bills that they
themselves initiated,” Landau said.
In the past year, the Knesset has
also begun broadcasting almost all committee meetings live on the Internet via
the Knesset’s website, and has reformed the tours of the Knesset building to
allow groups greater access to witness the legislative process.
Ministry director-general Guy Rotkopf also welcomed the initiative on Tuesday,
describing it as a revolution.
“Only after some time passes will we be
able to correctly assess the degree of its impact on strengthening democracy,”
According to cabinet secretary Tzvi Hauser, the Smart Cloud will
also have a significant impact on Israel’s reputation overseas.
project will benefit Israel’s image as an advanced democracy, and as a
groundbreaker in transparency and public involvement in the work of the Knesset,
the government and the Justice Ministry,” Hauser said.
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