Yitzhak Levy proposes raising number of Knesset members to 150

Says larger cabinet, more committees stretching MKs too thin.

One of the advantages of serving as a legislator is that if you feel that you can't quite get all your work done, you can propose a law that would increase the number of people assigned to do your job - and this is what MK Yitzhak Levy (NU-NRP) had in mind when he proposed Monday that the number of MKs be increased from 120 to 150. Levy complained that the workload placed upon MKs had grown to such an extent that it was simply impossible to adequately study the issues upon which MKs were expected to vote in the plenum, as well as in the committees in which they sit. Levy said the enlargement of the cabinet - a popular tool for coalition building - was part of the cause of the problem. In the current Knesset, 30 MKs - one out of every four members - currently serves as either a minister or an assistant minister, an additional assignment that detracts from their participation in the legislative functions of the house. But budget hawks in the Knesset are not likely to find the call for reinforcements so appealing - the annual cost of adding an additional 30 MKs would surpass NIS 30 million. Levy said that in essence, he viewed the so-called Norwegian Law as the ideal solution. The Norwegian Law stipulates that any MKs appointed to the cabinet would resign their Knesset seats, which would be filled by other members of their party lists. An MK who resigned his or her government post would be able to reassume their seat in the legislature. The expansion of the Knesset, he explained, was an alternative choice in light of the fact that the Norwegian Law was not likely to ever be viewed as politically feasible in Israel. The long-time MK also cited the fact that the number of both permanent and temporary committees had grown significantly in past decades, meaning that each MK now is expected to participate in a larger number of hearings. It is common in the Knesset for members to run from committee hearing to committee hearing in order not to miss key votes - but preventing them from hearing the discussions leading up to the votes. In addition, Levy argued, the population of Israel in 1948, when the number of MKs to be elected to the Knesset was set at 120, was one-tenth the current population of the state, meaning that the rate of electoral representation has plummeted in the past 60 years.