Interim Speaker Has Agenda: Ministers to Grade Themsevles

To keep the new Knesset busy while it waits for a government to be formed, MK Michael Eitan (Likud), the designated interim Knesset speaker, has proposed asking each outgoing minister to give a report of what he achieved during his tenure and what he believes still needs to be done.

Knesset members will be able to query the ministers and express their own views on the topics at hand.

While the MKs formally take office tomorrow, a new government will probably not be formed for weeks. Until then, the Knesset cannot staff its various committees, since it does not yet know which MKs will be appointed ministers or deputy ministers, and hence be unable to serve in parliamentary positions. And since most legislative work takes place in committee, this means the parliament is effectively unable to legislate.

Eitan - who was appointed interim speaker by virtue of being the longest-serving MK, who does not have a ministerial position - fears that unless he proposes an alternative, the Knesset will end up spending the next several weeks on motions for the agenda. Such debates result in no concrete action, and have thus increasingly become scorned as time-wasters by both legislators and the public.

In contrast, he believes that ministerial reports can serve as a fruitful vehicle for discussion of the various ministries' goals and needs, since with the elections over, the incentive to engage in personal attacks rather than substantive debate has waned.

Eitan also plans to bring noncontroversial government bills up for their first reading over the next few weeks. However, there are very few such bills in the pipeline.

Tomorrow's opening session will be strictly ceremonial, with each MK formally taking the oath of office.