Update on Laws before the Knesset – 2 March 2023
To see the variety of bills before our elected representatives and get an idea of what they concern themselves with aside from the raging battle over judicial reform.
To date, 2712 bills have been tabled in the current Knesset term and are at various stages of the process.
Just to remind you, the current Knesset members were sworn in on 15 November 2022 and the government was sworn in on 29 December. Our legislators did not wait until the government was sworn in to submit bills, the first ones being submitted on 12 December. Another point to remember — bills are tabled on Mondays. They must first receive approval from the legal office of the Knesset to move on to preparation for preliminary reading. For a complete explanation of the stages in legislation, read my article on how the Knesset passes laws.
The great bulk, if not almost all, of the bills before the Knesset today are bills that were approved during the previous Knesset but did not move through the process (and many of these were approved during the previous Knesset, that were approved during the Knesset before that, etc.). There is a law that permits this continuity in legislation. Since our MKs are not having to work hard drafting and preparing new bills (because this work was already done in some previous Knesset term), what are they spending their time doing?
Well, for one thing, they should be sitting in committees debating bills that made it through to the committee stage. That is where the bills will be fashioned into a form that stands a chance of passing into law. From what I can see from the committee sessions I have observed, by being present at one session once upon a time, and viewing videos of other sessions, this is nitpicking and aggravating work. This is also where opposition MKs have the opportunity to influence the direction of bills tabled by coalition MKs and vice versa. When our representatives keep the needs of the nation uppermost in their minds, they will support and help refine bills regardless of who proposed them.
Back to the numbers:
There are 2548 bills listed under “Preliminary Reading”.
Of these, one was rejected when brought to a vote in the plenum. You may be interested in that one: it was a proposal tabled by a group of Yesh Atid MKs to include consideration of gay couples as qualifying for adoption. In the discussion, Ya’akov Margi (Shas), current Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Minister, told the plenum that the government regards the good of the child as central in all considerations and for that reason the government is working on a wider reaching bill that will include gay couples. Being of such importance, the government does not consider it as suitable for a private members’ bill but a government bill and is in the process of bringing it to completion (predicted to be about six months). Anyone who is interested, can follow up and see if that actually happens. In any case, the vote was 37 in favour of passing the bill, 54 against (meaning trusting the government to include the issue in their upcoming proposed law).
Another one of these laws has begun to be discussed in the plenum: proposing to provide a grant to a survivng spouse of a deceased Holocaust survivor.
57 Bills are listed under “First Reading”
Of these, 47 are in preparation before the first reading. All but two of these are private members’ bills. These two are Law Committee bills and they pertain to: (1) judicial review and (2) authority of the government and the ministers to determine their legal position in their daily operations and before judicial courts. These will be discussed in separate articles.
Nine of the bills are awaiting discussion in the plenum and one has already begun to be discussed. That one comes under the law for patients’ rights and concerns the issue of hametz (not kosher for Passover) in hospitals on Passover.
19 Bills are listed under “Second-Third Reading”
Of these, 16 are in the preparation stage. These include two private members’ bills, two committee bills, and 12 government bills. I list them below:
Private members’ bills:
1. Related to restrictions on communication providers and equipment – proposed by a group including Shas, United Torah Judaism, Likud, National Unity Party and Hadash-Taal.
2. Defining authority of the National Security Minister over the Police Commissioner, while the latter remains the highest operational rank, he is subject to the authority of the minister. This was “proposed” by Tzvika Foghel (Otzma Yehudit) on behalf of Ben Gvir, and is actually a portion of a bill concerning authority over the police, the rest of which already passed into law on 27 December, two days before Ben Gvir became a minister. Once he became a minister, he could no longer propose a private member’s bill.
1. Constitution, Law and Justice Committee (Law Committee) – Composition of judicial selection appointments committee – part of the judicial reforms
2. Law Committee – Related to selection of MKs for the judicial appointments committee – part of the judicial reforms
Government Bills and their Related Committees
1. National Security Committee – Municipal supervision – this is a continuation of legislation that began in 2021
2. Internal Affairs and Environment Committee – Biometric identification of foreigners entering Israel – continuation of law from 2021
3. Law Committee – Interest rates and linkages – continuation of law initatied in May 2022
4. Law Committee – Interest rates and fees related to writ of execution (hotza’a l’poel) – continuation of law from May 2022
5. Foreign Affaris and Defense Committee – authority for body searches in criminal cases – first reading in Feb 2023 (this one was rushed through)
6. National Security Committee – adjustments in law after transferring responsibilities from the National Authority for Community Security to the National Security Ministry – continuation of law initiated in 2021
7. Health Committee – medical procedures in the patient’s home – continuation of law that began in January 2022
8. Finance Committee – encouraging hitech industries – continuation of bill from August 2022
9. National Security Committee – regulations regarding imaging in public places for policing purposes
10. Internal Affairs and Environment Committee – two bills combined into one in the Metro Law – continuation of bill from 2021
11. Economic Affairs Committee – prohibition against harming parallel and personal imports – continuation of law from June 2022
12. Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee – authority to collect information on those entering and leaving Israel – continuation of law from September 2022
19 Laws Marked as Completed and Listed in the Law Books
Four of these laws were proposed by individual MKs, two by committees and the remainder by the government.
Private Members’ Bills
1. Yoav Kisch & Hanoch Dov Milwidsky (Likud) – miminum number of members of party who can leave faction after election
2. Simcha Rothman (Likud), Moshe Arbel (Shas), Nissim Vaturi (Likud) – regarding “additional” minister and adding “active” to “prison sentence”
3. Itamar Ben Gvir (Otmah Yehudit) – the law increasing responsibilities of National Security Minister over the police was passed before he became minister
4. 19 MKs from a number of parties – cancelling citizenship or residency of person receiving payment for committing terrorist act
1. Law Committee – increased the number of ministers and deputy ministers who can resign as MKs and let another member of their parties do the legislative work
2. Knesset Committee – creating the Health Committee and giving it responsiblities that were under other committees previously, and giving some responsiblities from a number of committees to the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee
1. The Settlement Bill – the one Likud and Religious Zionism opposed in order to bring down the former government
2. concerning collection of payments and overdue payments to municipalities and services
3. concerning writ of execution
6. mine fields
7. enforcement and supervision of local jurisdictions (I didn’t read the entire law and I’m not sure what it is really about)
8. adding another year to the special conditions available to the government because of the Coronavirus
9. extending for another year that some soldiers in regular service serve in either the police or the prisons while retaining their status as soldier
10. authority to inform transportation company who on their list of passengers is forbidden from entering or leaving the country
11. soldiers who completed their service then working in the prisons
12. extending licence of small television and radio stations for another year while regulatory law is being completed
13. pricing in the milk industry
In another month or two, I will go back to the Knesset archive and see how much legislative activity will have taken place between now and then.
I hope that I have correctly understood the essence of all these bills. If I have made any errors, please let me know so that I can correct them. If there is anything of particular interest to you and you would like me to look into it a bit more (aside from the judicial reform bills, of course, which I am already examining), please let me know.