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Wide view of the Knesset.(Photo by: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Ministers to vote on requiring ‘state of the union’ address
By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN
The bill is one of many that is to be voted on at Sunday’s meeting of the committee.
The prime minister will soon have to deliver an annual “state of the union” address like the president of the United States if the ministerial committee on legislation passes a proposal requiring such a speech when it comes to a vote Sunday.

The bill, proposed by MKs Hilik Bar (Labor) and Orly Levy-Abecassis (Yisrael Beytenu), would set the last Thursday in December as the day when the prime minister would have to update the citizens about what his government has done in the past year and how the challenges of the year ahead would be tackled. The legislation would require similar annual speeches by the IDF chief of staff, Israel Police inspector-general, Knesset Speaker and the head of the opposition.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) backed the initiative, which has broad support in both the coalition and opposition.

Bar said such addresses could help improve the public’s impression of its leaders and strengthen the connection between politicians and their constituents they purport to serve.

The bill is one of many that is to be voted on at Sunday’s meeting of the committee.

The most controversial is a nationalist bill sponsored by coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud).

Elkin’s legislation would define Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, “Hatikva” as its national anthem and the Star of David between blue stripes on a white background as its flag. It would give special advantages to Hebrew above other official languages and the Jewish calendar above the civil calendar. It would promote the ingathering of the exiles and teaching Israel’s Jewish heritage.

“Despite the wide consensus among Israelis that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, it has never been set in a Basic Law,” Elkin wrote in the bill. “It is especially important at a time when there are those who want to cancel the right of the Jewish people to a nation state in its land.”

The bill is likely to be backed by a majority of the ministers on the committee. Sources close to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) said she would do everything possible to prevent the advancement of the bill.
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