Reuven Rivlin - Emil Salman - January 2012
Reuven Rivlin. Photo by Emil Salman
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Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin restricted the work of lobbyists in the Israeli parliament on Thursday, following an investigative reporting expose of the lobbying firms' methods of operation.

Earlier this week, Channel 2 aired an item concerning the work of lobbyists, and the way in which they influence legislation in a manner which advances industrial and commercial interests.

A crew from Channel 2's investigative reporting show Uvda infiltrated the training program of the Gilad Government Relations & Lobbying firm

Using a hidden camera, the show documented the ways in which trainees are taught to influence the Knesset's Research and Information Center and formal queries presented to government offices.

One example given by a Gilad instructor was a law, allegedly advanced by the firm stipulating that every Israeli driver carry a fluorescent vest in his car and use it when exiting it on the road's shoulder. The legislation was presented as a instance in which the firm was able to advance the interests of its client, 3M.

In response to the Uvda item, Rivlin ordered to immediately revoke the permanent Knesset access given to all Gilad employees, adding that he was also considering to undo the company's lobbying permit., pending a hearing.

In addition to these steps, the Knesset speaker also instructed the parliament's personnel to immediately forbid the entrance of all lobbyists to areas heavily populated by MK activity as well as from the compound's professional offices.

These include the Knesset's cafeteria, the entrance hall to the Knesset's assembly, the Knesset's legal compound, and the Research and Information Center.

In a letter sent to the Knesset's commanding officer, Rivlin indicated that lobbyists would be allowed to gain entry into those areas only if personally invited and escortev by a MK or administrative manager.

Rivlin also sent a missive to general Knesset staff, according to which Knesset employees would be forbidden to contact lobbyists, whether directly or indirectly.

Following the Channel 2 expose, the Knesset speaker said that it did not represent "speculation or gossip, but a reality which necessitates a deep, thorough, and prolonged treatment."

"Legislative processes often fall victim to manipulation borne out of the business-government link," he said, adding that it was "clear today more than ever that drastic measures must be advanced to prevent the Knesset from becoming a well-worn threshold to the lobbying firms."

Rivlin added that "the obstacle is in front of our eyes, and we must tear it from our midst," saying the influence of lobbying firms represented "a real threat to Knesset decision making processes and order."