The Israel Democracy Institute's (IDI) 2017 Outstanding Parliamentarian Award was presented on Monday to Knesset Members Roy Folkman (Kulanu) and Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid), at a ceremony attended by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and IDI President Yohanan Plesner.
Plesner said that this was a very important opportunity to express appreciation to Knesset members for their exemplary parliamentary efforts, which focus not on creating loud and quickly forgotten headlines, but on professional, thorough and consistent work that brings about real changes in Israeli society. IDI's president also commented on the Knesset's current efforts to streamline private legislation and bolster government's supervisory capabilities: "This is a window of opportunity that must be embraced, by the coalition and opposition alike, in order to provide MKs with improved tools and institutional incentives to enhance their work on behalf of the public." On the subject of the pending nation-state law, Plesner said that it should be carefully examined and not passed with a simple majority. "A nation-state law that contains broad agreement could be the Knesset's gift for Israel's 70th birthday," Plesner stated.
Knesset Speaker Yoel (Yuli) Edelstein thanked the IDI staff and said that "the Outstanding Parliamentarian award proves that one can achieve, be singled out and praised without having to resort to cursing, bullying and screaming." Regarding the initiative to reform the functioning of the Knesset, Edelstein said that "we are at a crossroads in terms of reforms and we should be guided by the desire to preserve a proper balance and anticipate the implications of such changes on relations between the Knesset and government. Edelstein added that he is pained by the fact that whereas once upon a time the Knesset was guided by a set of rules, today such standards have become much more fluid, sometimes being remembered by MKs, then suddenly forgotten. "It's easy to kick with your hand, like Maradona, but we in the Knesset have a short tradition so we must always keep in mind what will happen if the other side breaks the rules."
MK Roy Folkman said: "Political activity is not like anything else, and one of the things that I'm preoccupied with as chairman is how to make ours a good faction that engages in productive activities. This is my attitude with regards to relations between the coalition and the opposition, as well as maintaining boundaries established by the rules of the game. There are many good MKs, but I am sure that in order to restore the public's trust in the Knesset, we need professionalism, agreement, civility and the rules of the game. "
MK Karin Elharar said: "I feel proud to get up every morning and work for the public, especially for those citizens whose voices are not heard. I believe in the Knesset's ability to both change people's lives and supervise the work of government."
MK Yair Lapid, Chairman of the Yesh Atid party: "Though there are those who entered politics for the wrong reasons, most people got involved because they wanted to make the world we live in a better place and this is a task for tough people like Karin, who is tough and incredibly smart. She knows how to marshal political forces and emerge victorious from political dustups. Her toughness is enlisted in the service of the weak and those who cannot help themselves."
Minister Moshe Kahlon, Chairman of the Kulanu party: "We became the party that took it upon itself to ensure that no harm comes to Israel's democracy, the Supreme Court and the rule of law. Every day, led by MK Folkman, we combat various proposals aimed at harming particular institutions and democracy in general. Those who want to weaken the Supreme Court are powerful people that the high court interferes with, while for society's most vulnerable it is the last bastion."
This is the sixth year that the Israel Democracy Institute has given out the Outstanding Parliamentarian award. The Award Selection Committee is headed by former deputy president of the Supreme Court Justice (ret.) Theodore Or and includes Prof. Menachem Ben Sasson, Prof. Gabriella Shalev, former MK Ophir Pines-Paz, former minister Ghaleb Majadleh and Dr. Leah Nass, who conducted a series of discussions that included analyses of quantitative and qualitative data on the parliamentary activities of Knesset members, by which the winners of this year's award were determined.
For further details:
Amir Koren, Spokesman for the Israel Democracy Institute: 054-4557244