Murmurs of discontent among MKs at prospect of Knesset reforms

Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik recommends ministerial status reports, longer work days and mandated MK attendance at Knesset plenum hearings.

Ministerial status reports, longer work days and mandated MK attendance at Knesset plenum hearings were among the recommendations made by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik Monday in her final report on her upcoming Knesset reforms. The Knesset House Committee and Speaker's Office have already published most of the reforms recommended in the report. On Monday, however, they began the process to initiate those reforms by allowing MKs to review and debate them. "This is going to be a long process, nobody expects these changes to be made overnight or without the proper debate," said Itzik. "I am sure that many people will be angry over these reforms. But I feel that they were just and much-needed." Itzik said that she had already heard murmurs of discontent from the cabinet, whose ministers would be required to attend 40-minute question and answer sessions in the plenum regarding their various ministerial duties. MKs were also weary of some of the reforms, such as stricter requirements on MK attendance in the plenum. "We cannot have a situation where 40 MKs demand the presence of the prime minister for a debate, and then barely half of those MKs attend the actual discussion," said Itzik. MKs have also voiced criticism over the timing of the report, claiming that Itzik is trying to pass it without due process. Itzik, however, has said that she will hand the report over to the Knesset committees for discussion. She added that many of the reforms were compiled in the wake of the Second Lebanon War. "During that time I asked myself if we, the Knesset, had acted in a better manner, maybe some of the mistakes of the war could have been avoided," she said, but did not elaborate. Last month, Itzik won a victory over the Finance Ministry by cutting out significant portions of the Economics Arrangements bill that normally accompanies the yearly budget. The bill, which is actually a collection of financial reforms bundled together and packaged as a whole, has been criticized as pork barrel legislation. Itzik has sworn to do away with the bill altogether as part of her reforms. "The Knesset cannot allow itself to be run over. It is the representative of the people, and must defend their rights," said Itzik.