24 Hours, 800 Bills: Meet the 18th Knesset

Some 800 bills were submitted to the 18th Knesset on Tuesday, including one to disperse the Knesset, drafted by Meretz.

MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), chairman-designate of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, managed to get his bill in first. The bill, over benefits for released soldiers, is numbered 1/18/p.

As soon as Rotem was sworn in with the rest of the new Knesset's members about a month ago, Rotem's parliamentary assistant filed the bills with the Knesset secretariat. "So that nobody would take the released soldiers' rights bill or the civil marriage bill from me," he said.

Rotem's bill is the first of 804 bills that the Knesset's temporary presidium approved for submission Tuesday. Bill drafts were distributed to the MKs yesterday - reading material over the Passover vacation.

Most of the bills submitted this week were drafted in the previous Knesset. Only a fifth of the 4,073 private member bills drafted in the 17th Knesset have been submitted so far.

Private members' bills are generally regarded as a plague on the Knesset. MKs argue, however, that they have no other effective way to influence the government. It is also hard to ignore the fact that those who submit the most bills are the best parliamentarians.

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) filed 116 bills, MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) 66 and MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) 58. The freshman MK who filed the most bills was MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), who filed eight, including the civil marriage proposal.

Meretz's MKs, headed by party leader MK Haim Oron, lost the race for submitting the first bill, but were the first to file a bill to disperse the 18th Knesset. Judging by the election results, it is not hard to understand why.

Proposing bills has become a way of expressing a position, even if the bill has no chance of passing. MK Dov Khenin became famous for his success in passing environmental laws, but even he probably does not believe his bill to close the nuclear reactor in Dimona will be passed. In his proposal, he argues that the reactor has aged and endangers the environment and its staff.

The Balad faction has submitted a bill with similar chances, calling to dissolve the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency.

The new minister for immigration and absorption, Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beiteinu) managed even before her appointment to submit, with partners, a bill restricting alcohol advertisements, similar to cigarette advertising.

The bill stipulates that every advertising notice must bear a large warning: "The Health Ministry warns that drinking intoxicating beverages impairs your driving and machine-operating skills and could damage your health. Pregnant women are advised not to drink intoxicating beverages due to the risk of birth defects."