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Elections: The Knesset hosts the Foreign Press

Publicized: January 9, 2013

Approximately 50 foreign journalists came to hear a briefing presented by Chairman of the Election Committee Justice Elyakim Rubinstein and Speaker of the House Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin.
With 2 weeks left until the elections for the 19th Knesset 50 foreign journalists came to hear a briefing in order to learn about Israel’s Parliamentary System the upcoming elections and the activities of the Central Elections Committee as part of a one day seminar presented by the Division of Public Relations in the Knesset and the Government Press Office (GPO).
The journalists met with the Chairman of the Election Committee Justice Elyakim Rubinstein who explained to them the steps taken by the Committee towards preparing for the upcoming elections and the process of counting votes that is to be held at the end of Election Day itself.
Justice Rubinstein also remarked on the disqualifying of MK Hanin Zouabi and the High Court’s decision on the matter. “MK Zouabi was disqualified by a majority of Committee Members due to her participation in the Marmara Flotilla and the decision was transitioned to the High Court due to a motion, The High Court decided to overrule the Committee’s decision and their explanation on the matter should be published shortly”.
Following Rubinstein, the journalists received a briefing from Speaker of the House Reuven Rivlin on the difficulties which are to arise in the next Prime Minister’s term. “Immediately upon the convening of the 19th Knesset there will be a pressing need to pass the next budget, if the new Prime Minister is unsuccessful in doing that, we will find ourselves facing new elections within 6 months”. Rivlin also remarked on the on the difficulty in legislating when there are so many small parties in the Knesset due to the low bar of votes needed to get into the Knesset.
On the joint panel were also the Knesset’s Legal Advisor Eyal Yinon , Director of the GPO Nitzan Chen and Knesset Spokesperson Yotam Yakir. The journalists learned that the 18th Knesset passed 580 new bills through legislation. “We are a bill factory of the biggest in the world which is especially due to the fact that the private sector can promote legislation along with Members of Knesset to promote their agendas” explained Yinon. “With the convening of the new Knesset 2 new bills must be legislated, The Budget Law and a replacement for the Tal Law”.
Yinon and Chen agreed that there is no danger presented towards Israel’s democracy. Chen said: “We are among the Western Countries with the highest rankings in freedom of speech and therefore I see little danger towards democracy”.
Yinon:”The reason it may seem sometimes that there is a threat posed towards democracy is when a question is raised regarding the Israel’s Jewish Democratic identity, when some of the Knesset Members try to tip this important balance. We did in fact have some legislation that was controversial but we still kept a balance in which democracy was not affected.

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