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Knesset expands ‘Norwegian Law,’ allowing ministers parliamentary ‘stand-ins’

View of the plenum hall of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on February 10, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, voted Monday to expand the “Norwegian Law,” which allows ministers to have members of their own party serve as their replacements in the Knesset while they serve in ministerial roles. 

Previously, parties with 10 or more members in the Knesset could replace up to five members. The law passed yesterday permits parties who hold more than 18 seats in parliament to provide stand-ins for up to one-third of their members. The previous limits stay in place for smaller parties. 

The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, chaired by Knesset Member (MK) Simcha Rothman of the Religious Zionism party, voted to approve the bill. The law passed with 65 MKs voting in favor and 18 opposing. 

The Norwegian Law has been a source of controversy since its enactment in 2015. The law is named after similar legislation in Oslo. 

The Israeli government coalition announced plans late last year to expand the law. 

Proponents argue that the law strengthens the Knesset by allowing MKs to focus solely on parliamentary work. Likewise, MKs appointed to ministerial positions can leave Knesset matters attended to and focus solely on their executive duties.

Critics argue that the updated version of the Norwegian Law allows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to control Cabinet ministries, while also maintaining a loyal Likud party voting bloc in the Knesset. 

Opposition members reportedly planned to stage a filibuster. However, according to Walla! News, the scheduled speakers were not present, which shortened the discussion.

The law will increase the Knesset’s financial burden by up to NIS 39 million ($10-11 million USD) each year by adding the salaries of additional lawmakers. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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