Committees and the 'Norwegian Law': After 17-month Hiatus, Knesset Returns to Work

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Benny Gantz speaks at the podium in the Knesset during the swearing in ceremony for the new government on May 17, 2020.
Benny Gantz speaks at the podium in the Knesset during the swearing in ceremony for the new government on May 17, 2020.Credit: Adina Valman/Knesset Spokesperson's Office via AP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

After a year and five months, the Knesset resumed its parliamentary work on Wednesday, setting up committees and giving preliminary approval to the so-called "Norwegian Law."

The bill, which would allow cabinet members to resign as Knesset members and have their seats taken by new lawmakers, has been of particular importance to Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party because the party was formed by an alliance of several parties. However, this alliance broke up when Gantz agreed to join a coalition government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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A previous version of the bill – which would allow Kahol Lavan lawmakers who became ministers to resign from the Knesset and bring in other members of their faction, skipping over members of the Yesh Atid-Telem faction, which split from Kahol Lavan to join the opposition – was scrapped after criticism from the High Court of Justice.

Differences over who would head the different Knesset committees are still ongoing. While Likud and Kahol Lavan originally planned to allow the opposition to head only one committee, the High Court's criticism once again prompted them to change their stance. As it stands currently, the opposition will sit at the helm of three committees.

The Netanyahu-Gantz coalition will chair several committees, chief among them the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the Finance Committee, the Economic Affairs Committee, the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs and the Special Committee on Dealing with the Coronavirus.

The committees to be headed by the opposition include the State Control Committee, the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality and the Special Committee for Eradicating Crime in the Arab Sector.

Because the Arab Joint List has not yet decided which committee it will chair, the chairs of the other committees have not yet been named.

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