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Israel: New Provisions on Cessation of Knesset Membership by Ministers or Deputy Ministers

(Oct. 2, 2015) On July 30, 2015, the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) passed an amendment to Basic Law: The Knesset that provides that a Knesset Member may resign from Knesset membership upon assuming ministerial or Deputy Ministerial position in the government. (Basic Law: The Knesset – 1958, Knesset website; Basic Law: The Knesset (Amendment No. 42) 5775-2015 [Basic Law Amendment], § 2 , SEFER HAHUKIM [SH, Book of Laws] 5775, No. 2500, p. 248, available at RESHUMOT [Official Gazette) [scroll down to Issue No. 2550] (in Hebrew).)

Such a resignation will result in the appointment to the vacated Knesset position of the person next in line on the candidate list of the resignee’s political party. (Basic Law Amendment, § 3; for information on the system of elections to the Knesset, see The Electoral System in Israel, Knesset website (2014).) The Minister or Deputy Minister’s Knesset membership will be resumed upon either the termination of the ministerial position or the appointment of the individual as a Prime Minister or acting PM. (Basic Law Amendment, § 2.)

The passage of the Basic Law Amendment was followed by the adoption of additional legislation, the Cessation of Knesset Membership by a Member Serving as a Minister or a Deputy Minister (Temporary Amendments) Law, 5775-2015 [Amendment Law], applicable for the duration of the current, 20th Knesset session. (The Amendment Law, SH 5775, No. 2500, p. 251, available at RESHUMOT [scroll down to Issue No. 2500] (in Hebrew).)

The Amendment Law contains amendments to several relevant laws needed for the application of the Basic Law Amendment (Summary Note, Knesset website (last visited Oct. 2, 2015) [scroll down to Issue No. 940 and click on summary link on the left] (in Hebrew).) Among the laws amended by the Amendment Law is the Knesset Members Immunity Law, 5711-1951 [Immunity Law]. (SH 5711 p. 228,(1951).) According to the Amendment Law, a Minister or Deputy Minister who is not a Knesset Member is entitled to the same immunity as that enjoyed by those in ministerial positions who are Knesset Members. (Amendment Law, § 1, amending § 15 of the Immunity Law.) A similar extension of immunity is provided by an amendment to the Secret Monitoring Law, 5739-1979. (SH 5711 p. 228 (1979), amended by the Amendment Law, § 4.)

Among additional changes introduced by the Amendment Law is the extension of the Parties Law restrictions on campaign donations and expenses to both Ministers and Deputy Ministers. (Parties Law 5752-1992, SH 5752 No. 1395 p. 190 (1992), amended by the Amendment Law, § 5.)