|The Knesset at Work|
Bills are advanced in a number of stages, called readings. Every reading of a bill is adopted or rejected by a vote of the Knesset members present in the Plenum at the time. Between each reading there are debates within the Knesset committees, and they prepare the bill for the next stage of legislation. After passing the third reading, the bill is published in the Official Gazette and becomes a law of the State of Israel.
The Preliminary Reading: This stage is only relevant to private membersí bills. The Member of Knesset (or group of MKs) presents the bill together with an explanation to the Knesset Presidium (the Speaker of the Knesset and his/her deputies) for approval. A bill that has been approved to be placed on the Knessetís agenda is usually placed on the Knesset Table at least 45 days before it is brought to the Plenum for the preliminary reading. The reading begins with an opening statement from the MK who presented the bill, continues with the governmentís response or the objection of another MK, and ends with a vote. If the plenum decides to remove the bill from its agenda, the bill or any one identical to it will not be discussed in a preliminary reading during the following six months. If the Knesset approves the bill, the bill will be transferred to a Knesset committee to be prepared for its first reading. The bill will be published in the appendix to the Knesset Record of that meeting. The private membersí bills placed on the Knesset Table are also published on the Knessetís website.
Preparation for the First Reading: If a private membersí bill was approved in the preliminary reading, it is discussed in a Knesset committee. The committee can decide to prepare the bill for its first reading, or to remove it from the agenda. The committee invites the relevant government officials and others to the discussion. The committee also invites a representative from the Finance Ministry in order to clarify the estimated budget for the bill. If the government opposes a private membersí bill that will cost 5 million NIS or more annually, the bill will need the support of at least 50 MKs during the first, second and third readings in order to pass. After preparing a bill for the first reading, the committee transfers it to the Secretary General of the Knesset to be published in the Official Gazette of Bills and to be placed on the Knesset Table. The private membersí bills that are prepared for the first reading are also published on the Knessetís website.
The First Reading: A Government bill is published by the Government in the Official Gazette of Government Bills and is presented to the Speaker of the Knesset, who places the bill on the Knesset Table. Usually, a discussion concerning a Government bill takes place at least two days after being placed on the Knesset Table. The deliberation begins with the opening statement of a Government representative (a Minister or Deputy Minister) in the case of a Government bill, or the opening statement of the MK presenting the bill in the case of a private membersí bill. The Plenum holds a debate about the bill, in which all MKs are allowed to participate, and at the end of the debate the Knesset decides whether the bill should be removed from the agenda. In such a case, an identical or similar bill will not be discussed in a preliminary reading during the following six months. If the bill is approved, it is transferred to a Knesset committee to be prepared for the second and third readings.
Preparation for the Second and Third Readings: The committee can decide to prepare the bill for the Second and Third readings, or to propose to the Knesset that the bill be removed from her agenda. The committee is entitled to suggest amendments to the bill, and the MKs and ministers are entitled to request that amendments they suggested but were rejected will be recorded as reservations. The MK who submitted the bill can decide to withdraw it at any point during the committee discussions after the first reading.
The Second Reading: The chair of the committee that prepared the bill presents the bill to the Knesset, and the MKs and ministers who submitted reservations explain them. Afterwards, the committee chair puts the bill to a vote. The Knesset votes first on the reservations. If there are no reservations, the Knesset will vote on the article as it was written in the committee. If there are reservations, the Knesset will vote on the article according to the version containing the reservation. Bills discussed in second and third readings are published in the Knesset Record appendix for that meeting. The Government is entitled to withdraw a Government bill at any point until the vote during the third reading.
The Third Reading: This vote usually occurs immediately after the vote on the billís articles in the second reading. However, if there were reservations, the vote may be postponed by a week. During the third reading, the Knesset votes on the final version of the bill as it was approved in the second reading, with no discussion beforehand. After being approved in the third reading, the laws are published in a non-official version on the Knessetís website. Afterwards, they are published in the Official Gazette, which also appears on the Knessetís website.
During discussions of the State budget and in other unique cases, the Knesset sets special discussion schedules.
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