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The Plenum - Parliamentary Questions

A Knesset Member may approach a minister with a question on a matter of fact in the sphere of his responsibility. There are three types of questions: questions which are termed "ordinary", oral questions and direct questions. A question may not be argumentative or judgemental; include an insulting name or term, or a slight to the Knesset's dignity or common morality; constitute a request for an opinion, or an answer to an abstract legal question or hypothetical proposition. An ordinary or oral question may not include any name or revelation, whose publication is not vital for the understanding of the question, and the minister being asked may refuse to answer it if a public response might, in his opinion, cause damage to state affairs.

An ordinary question may not include more than 50 words. The question is handed over to the Knesset Speaker who may reject it, introduce changes in it as long as they are in keeping with the rules of procedure, or pass it on to the relevant minister. The answer to the approved question will usually be given within three weeks, and no later than six months. It will usually be given in the plenum by the minister concerned, his deputy or some other minister. After the answer is given the Member posing the question may ask an additional short oral question which is related to the answer given. The Member posing the question may request that the answer to the question be sent to him in writing or be published in the Knesset records without being read out in the plenum. In every Winter session of the Knesset, every Knesset Member may pose up to 18 ordinary questions, and in a Summer session up to 12.

An urgent question is similar to an ordinary question but may not include more than 40 words. Unlike an ordinary question it is read out in the plenum and the minister concerned, his deputy or some other minister must answer it within two days (on rare occasions within one day) as long as the question was tabled within the time defined in the Rules of Procedure. Every week up to seven urgent questions are allowed.

A direct question is worded briefly and is passed on to the minister concerned by the Knesset secretariat. The minister's answer is given in writing only, usually within 21 days from the day on which he received the question, and a copy of the answer is given to the Knesset Speaker. The quota for direct questions that every Knesset member is allowed to table, is 60 per Knesset year and 30 per session.

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