Bureaucrats Beware: Show Up at Knesset Panels or Face Penalty

A public servant who does not appear before a Knesset committee when summoned will be subject to disciplinary action, Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander wrote to Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel.

The decision came after two committee meetings were canceled during the Knesset's summer session when the relevant civil servants did not appear.

Copies of the letter were sent to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik and Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

Hollander wrote that according to Civil Service regulations, civil servants are obligated to appear when summoned and that "failure to comply with these instructions constitutes a disciplinary infraction with all its implications."

Hollander also wrote that "the disciplinary branch of the Civil Service will deal with any complaint it receives."

Itzik said the letter strengthens the Knesset's status. She said that when senior officials allow themselves to send subordinates, discussions lose value.

The problem is said to exist mainly with regard to smaller, less powerful committees rather than those on which the government ministries depend.

One of the two complaints was filed by MK Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beiteinu), head of the Committee on the Status of Women. She had called a meeting to discuss promoting small businesses belonging to Arab women, but the relevant officials from the finance and industry ministries did not appear.

"There was no point in holding the meeting," she said. A number of people had traveled a long way to attend, including Bedouin from the south and Arabs from the north.

MK Zeev Elkin (Kadima), chairman of the subcommittee on immigrant youth and children, said that "some government officials scorn the Knesset and arrive unprepared or not at all." He also filed a complaint.