Just as in parliaments around the world - the Israeli Knesset must resume its work.
A special analysis by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) shows that most parliaments in democracies around the world have continued working throughout the current emergency, adjusting the meeting procedures and voting restrictions to uphold public health. Parliaments that have been closed down or whose oversight of government has been compromised (Romania and Canada) have done so with the consent of the body's members.
IDI researchers Dr. Chen Friedberg, Avital Friedman, Dr. Asaf Shapira and Dr. Shany Mor, point out that even while adhering to the precautions necessary to maintain the public health of elected officials, it is possible to find ways to ensure that the Knesset returns to function. Among other things, this includes the establishment of the Knesset Arrangement Committee, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the Finance Committee and a special committee for addressing the Coronavirus crisis. In addition, the plenum (full house) should be convened as soon as possible as well. This is how most parliamentary democracies around the world are operating during these times.
Oversight over the government by the parliament is a basic feature of any democratic system, and is especial in this instance where a caretaker government, does not rely on the confidence from the Knesset, is taking significant and even extreme steps that lead to the concentration of powers in the hands of the executive branch and the possible violation of individual rights.
Researchers at IDI have proposed to hold discussions in the plenum adhering to strict sanitation regulations or holding the plenum discussions and votes using technological tools, even if this will require amending the Knesset's by-laws. An exceptional and temporary approval by the Knesset Attorney General, in addition to the Knesset Speaker's support, can enable such an apparatus for a limited period.
|Country||Parliament Work||Plenum and Committees||Special Measures|
|Denmark||Parliament is working – roll call voting||Since a number of parliament members are in quarantine, the number of members representing the parliament has been downsized from 175 to 95 to reflect the relative size of the parties||The plenum was sanitized and adjourned, and the members of parliament kept distance of a few chairs between them|
|Germany||Parliament is working – roll call voting||A number of parliament members are in quarantine, however the technological tools in place, enable them to work as usual from home||The plenum was sanitized and adjourned, and the members of parliament kept distance of a few chairs between them|
|Austria||Parliament is working – roll call voting||The plenum was sanitized and adjourned, and the members of parliament kept distance of a few chairs between them|
|Britain||Parliament is working||No adaptations have been put in place yet||A number of members of parliament have contracted the coronavirus including the Minister of Health|
|Norway||Parliament is working||The number of parliament members have been reduced to reflect the relative size of the parties from 169 to 87|
|* France||Parliament is working||The number of parliament members has been reduced to reflect the relative size of the parties, weekly meeting of the plenum to answer queries and vote on legislation. The committees meet with up to 24 members of parliament (as opposed to 73 MPs normally)|
|* Sweden||Parliament is working||The number of parliament members have been reduced to reflect the relative size of the parties from 349 to 55. Non-urgent activities have been postponed|
|* Finland||Parliament is working||`Committee meetings have been minimized|
|Canada||Parliament has closed for five weeks|
|* Lithuania||Parliament has closed until April 7th||An “Elderly Council” has been established to set the parliament’s schedule. Meetings on urgent items are held via electronic means.|
|* Estonia||Parliament meetings have been minimized||Working on-line|
|Romania||Parliament is working. in February the parliament passed a no-confidence, the outgoing Prime Minister got the mandate from the president to form a government. He is now the head of a minority government.||A vote of confidence in the government was held on March 14th, even though members of parliament and the government are under quarantine. parliament’s work is conducted online, including committees and voting.|
|European Union||conferences were cancelled and they moved to online meetings and voting|
* Source: The Knesset Research and Information Centre (RIC).