Lobbying Ethical Code

Government Relations Forum

A lively public debate takes place in Israeli democracy every day in which individuals, groups and organizations participate. The Knesset is the heartbeat of democracy and it is where elected officials and their employees meet with ordinary citizens and representatives of companies and organizations.
Knesset members and public officials routinely make decisions of crucial importance to individuals, groups, organizations and companies in Israel. The legislative procedure and determination of policy are based on principles of professionalism, transparency, consultation, and public participation. In the framework of said principles, the public is given the right to express its opinion and influence the design of public policy, whilst Knesset members and public officials have the responsibility to decide in accordance with the public interest and act impartially.
Considering this, government relations are an inseparable part of the democratic process and public participation in decision-making. This is the case in the world’s leading democracies – and in Israel. The purpose of government relations is to ensure that the public policy takes into account as wide a range of considerations as possible and that everyone who may be affected by it has the opportunity to make their voice heard and be an active partner in its design.
The lobbyists bring to the attention of the decision makers a wide spectrum of facts, positions, opinions and interests from a variety of companies and organizations in the Israeli economy and society. The lobbying profession is therefore intended to help the public to maintain continuous communication with its elected officials, and to serve as a channel for transferring knowledge and expertise from the business sector and civil society to the Knesset members. This, in accordance with the provisions of the law and professional and ethical standards, which are based on the principles of fairness, transparency and openness.
To promote public trust in the profession and the democratic process in general, the Government Relations Forum initiated the code of ethics. The code is intended for lobbyists working on behalf of business entities, public organizations, non-profit associations and the like. The ethical code includes new procedures, which impose ethical duties on lobbyists who have previously served as MK’s or as public officials, and of course on lobbyists. The Government Relations Forum encourages all lobbyists in Israel to conduct themselves in accordance with the code and to act for its assimilation among their colleagues in order to ensure the highest level of ethics in the profession.
The code of ethics draws from the world’s leading codes: the International Code of the Association of Accredited Lobbyists in the European Union (International Code of Lobbying Ethics) and the American League of Lobbyists Code of Ethics. The code further derives from the recommendations of the committee for the drawing of rules of ethics for Knesset members headed by Judge Yitzhak Zamir (2006), from the code compiled by the Knesset subcommittee for the drawing of ethics regulations, headed by MK Haim Oron (2011), and from existing codes in the lobbying industry in Israel.

  1. Duty to the public
    1.1 A lobbyist may only act subject to permission promulgated thereto by law.
    1.2 A lobbyist will act with honesty, integrity, and respect towards others, and with courtesy.
    1.3 A lobbyist will fully comply with all laws, regulations and rules applicable thereto.
    1.4 A lobbyist will refrain from acting in any way that may impair public trust in the democratic process.
    1.5 A lobbyist will refrain from any activity that involves discrimination, racism or intolerance.
    1.6 A lobbyist will seek to promote the profession, the integrity and dignity of those involved therein.
    1.7 A lobbyist will seek to encourage transparency, disclosure, and increase public trust in the lobbying profession.
    1.8 A lobbyist will reveal the name and identity of the client whose case it is promoting.
    1.9 A lobbyist will not be a member of a party’s electoral body.
    1.10 A lobbyist who has served in the past as an elected official or as a public official will not misuse the knowledge or connections it has acquired in its public roles. This includes the lobbyist refraining from advancing a matter in which it was involved in the course of its public duties within one year of the termination of its most recent position as an elected official or as a public official, whichever is the later.
    1.11 A lobbyist will seek to promote public awareness of the essence and contribution of the lobbying profession to the democratic process.
    1.12 In this spirit of public duty, lobbyists in Israel view voluntary activity in the community as a worthy and noble goal, and will thus seek to represent, free of charge, entities and groups that are unable to pay for such representation.
  1. Duty to elected officials and public officials
    2.1 A lobbyist will maintain credibility and provide reliable, up-to-date and accurate information at all times.
    2.2 A lobbyist will demonstrate proficiency in the laws, regulations and rules applicable to elected officials and public officials – including with regards to party financing – and will not be directly or indirectly involved in their violation.
    2.3 A lobbyist will not mislead an elected official or public official regarding a material fact related to the legislative process or government activity.
    2.4 A lobbyist will not create a misleading representation regarding public interest in a matter it is promoting.
    2.5 A lobbyist will neither demand nor accept a commitment from an elected official or public official to vote or act in a certain manner.
    2.6 A lobbyist who has provided information, and has since become aware of an error, inaccuracy, or material change that has taken place regarding such information, will provide up-to-date and accurate information to an elected official or public official who may rely on it.
    2.7 A lobbyist will not be directly or indirectly employed by an elected official or public official, whether in the Knesset or in the government or outside of them.
    2.8 A lobbyist will not offer or grant a reward or favor to an elected official or public official.
    2.9 A lobbyist will not in any way cause an elected official or public official to violate a law, regulation or rule.
  1. Duty to clients
    3.1 A lobbyist will act with fairness and professionalism while protecting the personal and professional honor and reputation of its clients or employer.
    3.2 A lobbyist will promote the affairs of its clients or employer faithfully, persistently and vigorously and in such framework will devote time, attention and resources to promoting their affairs in accordance with their expectations and any agreement between them.
    3.3 A lobbyist will familiarize itself with the legislative process, government operation and any subject required for the purpose of representing its clients or employer in a proper manner.
    3.4 A lobbyist will preserve and cultivate the knowledge it makes available to its clients or employer through continuous study, professional training and the development of the professional tools at its disposal. Furthermore, a lobbyist will regularly update itself with regards to the laws, regulations, rules and ethical norms relevant to its profession.
    3.5 A lobbyist will refrain from representation or professional activity that entails a conflict of interest. Furthermore, a lobbyist will disclose to its existing or potential clients all conflicts of interest known to it and will seek to obtain their informed consent insofar as is necessary for the purpose of settling such conflicts of interest.
    3.6 A lobbyist will inform its clients or employer regarding the quality and nature of its activities, including collaborations it undertakes with other paid or voluntary parties, and, if possible, will provide the client the opportunity to choose between different options for action.
    3.7 A lobbyist will draw a written agreement with its clients regarding the terms and circumstances of the service it intends to provide, including with regard to remuneration and reimbursement of expenses, to be charged for promotion of the client’s affairs alone.
    3.8 A lobbyist will maintain the confidentiality of information belonging to its clients or employer and will not disclose such information without the informed consent of its clients or employer. A lobbyist will not use confidential information belonging to its clients or employer for a purpose that does not originate from the contract between them.
    3.9 A lobbyist whose contract with a client or an employer has come to an end will act to the best of its ability to protect their interests, including returning documents or property to which the client or employer is entitled and allowing reasonable time for their engaging with an alternative lobbyist.

3.10 A lobbyist who is asked by different clients to represent them in a hearing before a MK or before a Knesset committee, regarding the same matter, will inform the clients and obtain their consent.

3.11 The employer will bring to the attention of all its employees the importance of avoiding a conflict of interest between the affairs of a client and the affairs of another client whom they represent in the same matter and will instruct its employees to act as set forth in Section 3.10.

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