Legislature to undergo 'trial run' while coalition takes shape

MKs already outdoing previous Knesset for new bills.

knesset full 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
knesset full 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Acting Knesset Speaker MK Michael Eitan announced on Sunday a limited schedule for the legislative body. Although it will likely take Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu more time to form a government, the Knesset's work was set to start at 4 p.m. on Monday, in what was called a three-week "trial run." During this time, Eitan plans to invite the 31 new MKs to deliver their first speeches in the plenum, where they'll be given five minutes to introduce themselves and their legislative agenda. In addition, outgoing ministers will be given an opportunity to review their ministry's achievements during the 17th Knesset. The first will be Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, who will speak on Monday afternoon and answer MKs' questions. "According to the Israeli system of governance, there are reciprocal relationships between the Knesset and the government, with the government functioning under the Knesset's supervision," Eitan wrote in a letter to MKs. "Under the current circumstances and due to the fact that permanent panels for committees have not yet been determined, a partial Knesset has to operate together with a transitional government." "During this trial run period," he wrote, "we can allow new MKs to jump into the cold water and experience parliamentary work, and [provide] a gradual routine for veteran MKs to get back on the job." Bills whose content was determined by the 17th Knesset will be brought to the plenum only for their first reading. In addition, the plenum will consider requests by the heads of temporary committees to grant continuance to other bills previously introduced. Eitan also announced that International Women's Day, which falls worldwide on March 8, will be marked in the Knesset on March 12, with events to be determined in consultation with female MKs and women's organizations. He added that the legislature would mark National Science Day on March 18. Meanwhile, MKs have already submitted more than 200 bills since the 18th Knesset was sworn in last Tuesday. Some 9,000 bills were introduced during the three years of the 17th Knesset. At the current rate, that figure would be reached in less than a year. Forty-one bills were submitted last Wednesday by Israel Beiteinu MK Lia Shemtov. They all addressed social welfare, environmental protection and efforts to strengthen the periphery, especially the Negev and the Galilee. Another diligent MK is Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), who has already introduced 25 bills. They include comprehensive legislation for rehabilitating the school system, starting with a reduction in class size, and the establishment of a national education council. A more controversial bill was one submitted by Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) for civil marriage, including for homosexuals.