Ministerial Committee votes to keep its meetings secret

According to MK Horowitz, lack of transparency in committee allows ministers not to take responsibility for way they vote.

nitzan horowitz 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
nitzan horowitz 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The committee is currently closed to the press and to MKs whose proposals are brought to a vote.
Both rely on leaked information from the committee’s members to find out who supported or opposed each bill.
Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz’s proposal would have made public the committee’s protocols and the way ministers vote, and would have allowed MKs to present their bills to the panel themselves.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who leads the committee, recently proposed that the votes be made public.
Her plan was supposed to be brought to a general ministerial debate, but it has yet to happen.
Livni told the panel that she thought the lack of a discussion was intentional, a clear reference to the Prime Minister’s Office’s opposition to making the panel transparent.
The justice minister suggested the committee vote only on publicizing votes and not the other parts of the bill.
“If someone wants lobbyists here to influence how we vote, then support it. I want there to be freedom and good judgment, not populism, in ministerial votes,” Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said. “You know, in Athenian democracy, everything was decided in stadiums.”
Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir said that, although everything that happens in the committee is leaked to the press, ministers shouldn’t have to face additional pressure.
Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach reassured Steinitz and Shamir that the ministers can handle it.
“This isn’t the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
We’re not dealing in confidential information,” Orbach added.
In the final vote, only Livni, Orbach and Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel supported Horowitz’s proposal.
The Meretz MK said, “Ministers who opposed the bill are acting like cowards and preventing the public from knowing their stances.”
“I will continue to lead the battle for transparency in one of the most important areas of Israeli public life,” Horowitz stated. “The Ministerial Committee for Legislation is the legislative graveyard of Israeli democracy.”
According to Horowitz, the lack of transparency in the committee allows ministers not to take responsibility for the way they vote and go against their promises to the public.