Ahead of Monday's scheduled discussion in the Knesset House Committee over a proposed amendment to Basic Law: The Knesset, aimed at penalizing Knesset committee members who are invited to testify or submit information but do not comply, the Israel Democracy Institute sent a policy statement to legislators, advocating for adoption of this amendment. However, in the statement, IDI maintained that the legislative change should only apply to civil servants.
The statement, written by Dr. Chen Friedberg, a researcher in IDI’s Political Reform program, states that standing committees are the Knesset's primary and most important oversight method. Therefore, the committees should have the best tools available to them. She says it would be correct to expand the authority of the committees to summon anyone with a position or who fills a role in the government, and to fine them if they don’t show up without a justifiable reason. This is already what happens in the State Control committee.
However, Friedberg notes that extending this enforcement of the obligation to appear to private entities, as is currently being proposed, will turn the Knesset into a quasi-judicial body, and this aspect of the proposal must be opposed. Such a scenario is problematic in relation to the principle of separation of powers and does not exist in other countries that maintain a parliamentary form of government like that in Israel.
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