Israeli Watchdog Urges Knesset to Cut Short Summer Vacation

MKs hesitant to extend summer session; due to elections, Knesset has been barely functioning for nearly nine months.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Fewer than a quarter of Knesset members have expressed support for an initiative to extend the upcoming summer session, which begins after Independence Day, until the end of August rather than recessing in July.

The initiative to cut the Knesset vacation is the work of a group called Hamishmar Hahevrati ("The Social Guard" ), which is gathering public support for the idea online. Hamishmar Hahevrati has been applying pressure on MKs using an Internet site called Hasdera ("The Boulevard" ), which enables users to send emails to MKs asking them to agree to work the extra month. Over the past few days, 21,000 such messages have been sent.

As of yesterday, 29 MKs had agreed to the initiative - among them Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel and Ayelet Shaked of Habayit Hayehudi; Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen, Ronen Hoffman and Karine Elharrar of Yesh Atid; Shelly Yacimovich, Eitan Cabel and Stav Shaffir of Labor; and all six Meretz MKs.

The Knesset has been barely functioning for nearly nine months, ever since it recessed last summer and then saw its winter session curtailed by the election campaign. There has been almost no Knesset committee activity since the summer; by order of Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, no bills were voted on, to avoid exploiting the pre-election period to advance populistic legislation.

"Unfortunately, most of the MKs, led by the more veteran and experienced MKs, don't see a reason for lengthening the Knesset's summer session on their own initiative, even though in practice, between last summer and this summer, the Knesset will have been in session only a quarter of a year," said Boaz Rackoz, director of Hamishmar Hahevrati.

MK Amir Peretz at a strikingly empty Knesset session called to discuss budget cuts on April 9, 2013. Notably absent was Yair Lapid. Credit: Michal Fattal

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