Reuven Rivlin - Emil Salman - January 2012
Reuven Rivlin. Photo by Emil Salman
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Corporations, individuals and other interested parties would be able to send only one lobbyist to Knesset committee discussions, under a new policy being drafted by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.

Currently, there are 110 lobbyists with permanent permission to attend committee discussions, and another 100 with temporary permits, many of them lawyers. Companies often send three or four lobbyists - plus company officials including accountants, lawyers and others - to committee discussions. Many discussions have more lobbyists than MKs present.

The lobbyists and representatives try to tell the Knesset members what to discuss and how to vote, stating their opinions during discussions and passing the MKs notes.

Rivlin termed the multiplicity of representatives "a fatal mix."

Under the 2008 Lobbyists Law, lobbyists must wear tags while sitting in committee discussions. However, this isn't being enforced, so MKs don't always know that the committee participants are necessarily lobbyists.

Lobbyists can be found throughout the Knesset building, running around the cafeteria and visiting the MKs in their offices, attempting to push initiatives that suit their employers.

Ultimately, the Knesset isn't happy about this. Knesset staff considered proposals such as limiting the number of lobbyist permits given to each lobbying firm and limiting the number of customers any firm could represent, but ultimately rejected these ideas, fearing they might violate the Freedom of Occupation Law. "The Knesset needs to update its policies concerning lobbyists," Rivlin said Friday.

The one-representative-per-company policy is being set because the Knesset lacks options for controlling lobbyists, he noted, adding that responsibility for proper relations with lobbyists ultimately lies with MKs themselves.