No More Excuses, Time to Get to Work

Next week the Knesset starts its winter session with a new building.

They are very busy at the Knesset preparing for the opening of the winter session this coming Tuesday.

The construction work on the section for committees in the new wing is progressing nicely, and there is hope it will be available in another month and a half so the Knesset committees can move into their new homes.

The new building, three stories high and 16,000 square meters large, includes 20 committee and meeting rooms. This should be enough to hold the MKs and those invited to the various sessions.

The new building also has a brand new, state-of-the-art television studio for the Knesset Channel. It will also have a dairy cafeteria to be moved from its present location near the plenum floor. The ground floor has ornamental pools with fish.

Every committee room was built with a system for broadcasting the proceedings, whether by television or over the Internet.

MKs can bring their laptops with them to meetings and connect to the Internet too.

Committee chairs will have their offices near their committee rooms, alongside the committee staff's offices. Every chair will receive an office suite with two rooms, one for the MK and one for his assistants and staff, as well as a bathroom and shower.

The current committee rooms and chairmen's offices will be converted for use by the Knesset factions.

On Monday the new entrance to the Knesset was opened, and the original black metal gates designed by sculptor David Palumbo at the old Knesset entrance will be moved elsewhere in the compound.

Government officials and others invited to attend Knesset committee sessions will no longer wander around the main Knesset building, but will enter the new building directly. Certain sections of the new building will be off limits to visitors.

As the new building was being finished, all the old trailers that housed MKs and various staff since the beginning of the 1990s were removed.

The trailers were sold off to various private and public groups. The last trailer was sold for NIS 20,000 to the Government Vehicles Administration.

The whole new wing of the Knesset complex will finally be finished with the completion of the new committee building. It only took seven years. Last year, 48 new office suites for MKs were inaugurated, each with two offices, a bathroom and a shower. The new wing also has a sophisticated gym for MKs and Knesset employees.

Of course, none of this came cheap. It was financed in an off-the-budget BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer) tender, and built by a private contractor. The state will pay annual rent of NIS 13 million for 25 years. Only at the end of this period will the building pass into official state ownership.

Now, after the MKs have been rewarded with upgraded offices and the committees have received sophisticated new meeting rooms, all we can do is hope that our MKs will actually show up for work.

Oh, and did I forget to mention something? On top of the NIS 13 million in annual rent, it only cost NIS 350 million.