Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s return to the Knesset plenum on Monday evening after a nearly two-month absence due to a broken leg went mostly uncelebrated and unnoticed, but MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) made sure to tell Netanyahu that a limp is nothing to be ashamed of.
Netanyahu approached Gilon in the plenum on Monday, after hearing that Gilon criticized the prime minister for using his injury as an excuse not to come to the Knesset.
“There is no reason to be embarrassed by your limp,” Gilon told Netanyahu, and offered him a ride on his electric scooter.
The prime minister’s bodyguards “were not excited about the idea,” Gilon recounted.
The two politicians discussed the importance of accessibility for disabled people, and Netanyahu told Gilon that he has a new perspective, following his injury.
The Meretz MK paraphrased Karl Marx, saying that “being determines consciousness,” and that if Netanyahu’s brief experience being disabled gave him new perspective, perhaps if the prime minister went hungry for a week, “everything in Israel would be perfect.”
Netanyahu hurt his leg in June, at an Arab-Jewish youth soccer game in Jerusalem, in which he missed a swipe at the ball. He held most of his meetings in his office, and avoided the Knesset while his leg was in a cast.
Gilon suffered from polio as an infant, and usually moves around the Knesset on an electric scooter, occasionally walking with a cane. The Meretz MK actively works for handicap rights, proposing and passing legislation on the issue.
Several other MKs limp, including David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu) and Tzion Pinyan (Likud) who also had polio as children. National Union leader Ya’acov Katz lost his leg in the Yom Kippur War, and walks with a cane.
MK Amir Peretz (Labor), who walks with a slight limp, was also injured during his IDF service.
In addition, MK Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beytenu) was injured in the Yom Kippur War, and uses a wheelchair.
When he was elected to the Knesset, a special wheelchair- accessible podium was installed in the plenum.