Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein (Likud), Director-General Ronen Plot and Secretary-General Yardena Meller-Horowitz took part in Monday`s meeting of the Special Committee for the Transparency and Accessibility of Government Information, which focused on the transparency of the parliamentary work.
Committee Chairwoman MK Stav Shafir (Zionist Camp) opened the meeting by saying that ”The day a former prime minister enters prison for corruption-related offenses is the time to reiterate that transparency is the most important key in the fight against corruption. While the Knesset is the most transparent of the three branches, there is still a long way to go. The Knesset Members – their decisions, positions and votes – should be exposed to all.”
Knesset Speaker Edelstein said the Knesset was constantly working to increase transparency, noting that ”every study finds that the Knesset is the most transparent branch.”
Edelstein detailed the many initiatives aimed at increasing transparency, including the decision that requires all lobbyists to identify themselves prior to entering Knesset committee debates, the placement of a card reader at the entrance to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee meeting room to identify guests and participants (the system will eventually be installed at the entrance to all committee meeting rooms), and the concentration of all the information pertaining to a committee`s activity in an organized and accessible web page. Edelstein also mentioned that the Knesset was in the final stages of creating a database of questions MKs submit to the various ministers.
From left: Shafir, Edelstein and Plot
Shafir requested that Edelstein work towards expanding the Knesset`s Research and Information Center, which provides vital information to the Knesset Members. ”Without the Center`s excellent work, the MKs receive studies and opinions on behalf of interested parties which represent their own private interests rather than the public`s interests,” she said.
In this regard, MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (HaBayit HaYehudi) noted that prior to a committee meeting on the mining in Sde Barir, MKs received a study from the company which is due to conduct the phosphate mining.
MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) spoke of his idea to give the public access, via the Knesset website, to the full scope of activity of each MK. Khenin`s initiative calls for the website to publish what a certain MK said in the committees and in the plenum, which proposals and questions he or she has submitted, and so on. ”Such a level of exposure will encourage the MKs to work more efficiently and to the point,” he said.
MK Yael German (Yesh Atid) suggested that MKs scan their Knesset ID cards before entering any meeting room in the Knesset, so that the public will have a detailed account of their daily activities. MK Moalem-Refaeli expressed her objection to the idea, saying that trust between the lawmakers and the public should be built by ”explaining the MKs` activities to each and every citizen.”
Tomer Avital, who is behind the ”100 Days of Transparency” project, said ”This is the most transparent Knesset ever… Certainly there is a lot more to do, together, but there is no comparison between [the transparency of the Knesset] and the [transparency] of the government`s work.”
Director-General Plot said, ”It is important to keep in mind that there are many budgets behind every development and upgrade in the transparency capabilities and the accessibility of information. I am very proud that the Knesset spends significant sums of money on these goals, which are important to us and the entire public.”