MKs decide they don't have to be well-dressed to legislate

Lawmakers debate new ethics regulations on appropriate behavior, dress and language.

Knesset 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Lawmakers voted Tuesday on new ethics regulations proposed by Knesset House Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud Beytenu) and MK Miki Rosenthal (Labor).
An article in Hanegbi and Rosenthal’s ethical guidelines, submitted last month, calling for lawmakers to dress appropriately was particularly controversial, and the committee voted to cancel it.
“People come here dressed like they’re going to the beach. We need to make sure they respect the Knesset,” MK Avraham Michaeli (Shas) said, protesting the cancellation.
MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism), however, said that it was better not to give attention to people who are dressed inappropriately, expressing concern that people might dress that way intentionally if there was an explicit rule against it.
MKs also debated the article requiring them to behave politely.
“The goal is to have a different debating culture,” Hanegbi explained. “People need to make changes. There is a lack of control. I was in the Shaked Committee [on haredi conscription] when we discussed hesder yeshivas and it was run like a kindergarten.”
Hanegbi said he wrote that legislators need to be polite, because he “couldn’t write ‘Don’t behave ridiculously.’” Coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) said it was important for the ethics guideline to differentiate between speech and behavior.
“MKs cannot be afraid to say what they want because of the Ethics Committee.
That is more harmful than not-nice words,” he said.
Levin made similar comments regarding an article saying that MKs must use appropriate language.
“We’re not talking about content, but if MK David Rotem [Likud Beytenu] wants to call MK Zehava Gal- On [Meretz] a beast again, this is the time to say that he shouldn’t,” Rosenthal explained, referring to an incident from 2011.
The House Committee approved an article saying that lawmakers who are absent from the Knesset for over a month will have their pay docked, unless they are ill or on maternity leave.
Currently, a lawmaker can be absent without consequences for two months.