New legislation would increase Knesset to 140 seats
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New legislation would increase Knesset to 140 seats

Bill by ultra-Orthodox MKs says workload necessitates 20 more parliamentarians

United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev in the Knesset on February 16, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
United Torah Judaism MK Uri Maklev in the Knesset on February 16, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

New legislation initiated by three ultra-Orthodox Knesset members proposes to increase the number of seats in the Israeli parliament from 120 to 140.

United Torah Judaism MKs Uri Maklev, Ya’akov Asher and Moshe Gafni note that the figure of 120 seats in the Knesset was determined 70 years ago, when the State of Israel was just founded and had less than a million residents.

“Since then, it’s become clear that the workload for MKs only increases,” they wrote in the draft, publicized Thursday, pointing to the numerous permanent and temporary committees and caucuses the parliamentarians sit on, and saying that they “do not manage to properly execute their work.”

The ministers also pointed to other parliamentary democracies with similar populations that have higher representation.

In Finland, for example, with a population of 5.5 million, the parliament has 200 seats; in Denmark, with 5.6 million residents, parliament has 179 seats; Belgium, with over 11 million residents, has a parliament of 150.

View of the plenum hall in the Knesset on February 06, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of the plenum hall in the Knesset on February 06, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The MKs also argue that many democracies have bicameral parliaments whereas in Israel, with a population of over 8 million, 120 MKs in one parliament do all the work.

An increase of 20 MKs in the Knesset would cost tens of millions of shekels, the ministers acknowledge, but counter that more efficient work by parliamentarians would save the state 60 times the expense, according to a Channel 2 report.

Bills to increase the number of seats in the Israeli legislature have been proposed in the past, most recently in 2006, but did not get approved.

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