Israel’s Knesset Members
A Comparative Study of an Undefined Job
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Taking Members of the Israeli Knesset (MKs) as a case study, this book offers a comparative analysis of the various roles performed by Members of Parliament (MPs) within the framework of their job in democracies around the world.
Based on the author’s experience of working in and for the Knesset, from 1977 to 2010, this book questions the lack of a comprehensive job description not only for MKs but also for similar roles in parliamentary democracies globally. The author finds that a serious perusal of materials dealing with the job’s various components – in the Israeli case, for example, basic laws, the Knesset Rules of Procedure, the Rules of Ethics for MKs, minutes of the Knesset Plenum and Committees and so forth − presents an almost complete picture of the MK’s job that like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle merely need be assembled together. Finding the job of MPs in general, and of MKs specifically, definable, this book argues that it ought to be defined considering the centrality of this role for a democracy’s functioning.
This innovative book will not only prove useful for scholars of Israeli governance and legislation but will also be of interest to scholars of parliamentarism and comparative legislative politics in general.
Table of Contents
List of Tables; About the Author; Preface; Acknowledgments; Lexicon of Acronyms, Terms, and Institutions; Introduction: An Undefined Job - Theoretical Background; Part I: The Essence of the Job and its Components; 1. The Essence of Representation; Section I.A: The Classic Parliamentary Roles; 2. The Legislative Role; 3. The Constituent and Reformatory Role; 4. Parliamentary Oversight and Scrutiny of the Executive Branch; 5. Parliamentary and National Agenda Setting; Section I.B: Activity on Behalf of Voters, Citizens, Constituencies, and Sectors; 6. Mediation Between Citizens and the Authorities; 7. Representation of an Electoral District or a Sector; Section I.C: Positions that Serve the Running of Parliament and the Government; 8. Official and Semi-official Positions; 9. International Activity; 10. The Judicial Role; Section I.D: Additional Roles; 11. The Legitimation Role; 12. The Effect of Belonging to a Party that is in the Government or in the Opposition; Part II: Restrictions and Limitations to the Job; 13. Reservations to Candidacy for and Membership in Parliament; 14. Compliance with the Law; 15. Conflict of Interests; 16. Political Party Activity; 17. Activity for Reelection; 18. Are Defense of Democracy and its Promotion Part of the Job?; Part III: Why the Job Ought to be Defined; 19. The Process of Professionalization; 19.1. Is Membership in Parliament a Profession?; 19.2. Membership in Parliament as Part of a Political Career and as a Fulltime Occupation; 19.3. Improving the Professional Qualifications of the MP; Section III.A.: The Rights and Duties of MPs that are Defined as a Function of their Job; 20. The Immunity of MPs; 21. Determining MPs' Salaries; 22. Reimbursement of Expenses; 23. Employment of Parliamentary Assistants; 24. Rules of Ethics; Section III.B.: Ignorance of the Public and Amongst MPs About the Job; 25. Lack of Knowledge by the Public About the Essence of the MP's Job; 26. Do the MPs Themselves Know What Their Job Is?; Conclusion; Epilogue; Bibliography
Susan Hattis Rolef received a BSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics, UK, in 1965, and her PhD from the University Institute of International Relations in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1970. She has lectured at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in the Department of International Relations. Between the years 1994 to 2010 she held various positions in the Knesset, inter alia in the library, in the construction of the Knesset website, as a researcher in the Knesset Research and Information Center and assisted the Knesset Foreign Affairs Department.