Coronavirus social distancing applies to Knesset members as well, and a number of MKs are or have been in quarantine after coming into contact with coronavirus victims. Under new rules implemented Tuesday, only 18 MKs can be in the plenum at one time – with six in each of the three sections of the Knesset’s main meeting room.
Under those rules, it will be very difficult to conduct any business – and to solve the problem, MKs have proposed a temporary law that will allow Knesset members to vote from remote locations. The law was proposed by MKs Avi Nissenkorn and Yitzhar Shay (Blue and White) with the support of party leader and Knesset speaker Benny Gantz. The law will allow MKs to participate in votes via communication technology, and will be in effect for three weeks. According to the MKs, the law has been approved by State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit.
“Participation in distance voting will apply to MKs who cannot be present at a Knesset session or committee discussion because they have been infected or because they are in a risk group for contracting coronavirus,” the law says. “MKs will be able to participate in discussions and vote on measures in the plenum and Knesset committees using technological means that will ensure that they are sufficiently identified.” Sponsors said they would expedite the law’s legislative journey, with final approval before Pesach.
One effect of the law is that it is expected to actually increase the number of MKs voting on measures. Usually, if an MK is not going to be present for a key vote, they will arrange with a member of the opposition to absent themselves in order to balance out the relative power between supporters and opponents of a law. With the new system, sponsors said, there will be no need for those arrangements, as MKs will be able to participate in votes from home if necessary.