When Shakib Shanan is sworn in as an MK, replacing Home Front Defense Minister
Matan Vilna’i in the Independence faction, the 18th Knesset will have a record
number of non-Jewish MKs: 15.
The Knesset’s three largest parties,
Kadima, Likud and Israel Beiteinu, each have a Druse Knesset member – Majallie
Whbee, Ayoub Kara and Hamed Amer, respectively – and MK Said Nafa (Balad) is
Druse. There are 100,000 Druse in Israel.
Shanan, who was a Labor MK in
the 17th Knesset, is expected to join their ranks in the coming weeks, when
Vilna’i begins his tenure as ambassador to China. The home front defense
minister’s appointment to the diplomatic post was approved by the cabinet on
Other non-Jewish MKs are the remaining two members of Balad,
Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka, and all four members of the United Arab
Three out of four MKs in the Hadash faction, which
includes the Israeli Communist Party, are not Jewish, including Hanna Sweid, the
18th Knesset’s only Christian member.
Independence faction chairwoman
Einat Wilf told The Jerusalem Post she saw the record number as a positive
reflection on Israeli democracy and proof that the Knesset is “probably the most
diverse parliament the whole world.”
According to Wilf, the major
differences in opinion between the far-Left and far-Right enrich the discourse
in the Knesset and strengthen democracy.