Knesset session to open with Schalits, Leef present

Likud MK Hotovely: Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin should have also invited terror bereaved families upset by Schalit deal to plenum.

October 31, 2011 06:24
2 minute read.
Knesset vote [file]

Knesset vote 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The Knesset’s winter session is to begin on Monday with a festive meeting in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and opposition leader Tzipi Livni will address the plenum.

Social activist Daphni Leef and the Schalit family are expected to attend.

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Some of the guests at the special opening meeting reflect the major events of recent months, and expected legislative trends for the new session.

Noam and Aviva Schalit, parents of recently released kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, were invited to the Knesset, though some MKs have expressed opposition to unbalanced prisoner exchanges, such as the 1,027- 1 swap in which Schalit was returned to Israel on October 18. MKs have said they would propose bills to limit or prevent such exchanges in the future.

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said on Sunday that, while she respects the Schalit family, Rivlin should have also invited “bereaved families, in which those who murdered their loved ones were released in the deal [to release Schalit].

“The difficult side of the deal should be expressed, as well,” she explained. “It was a complex moment. While many were happy that Schalit was released, it cannot be denied that many families were hurt because terrorists were set free.”

Daphni Leef and other leaders of the social demonstrations, which continued on Saturday night, is expected to attend Monday’s meeting in an effort to “bring the protests to the Knesset.”

A spokesman said on Sunday that the movement’s leaders plan to “sit right across from the prime minister, the president and the Knesset speaker when they mention the social protests in their speeches,” and to attend votes and discussions in the future.

“We are coming to the Knesset to take action throughout the upcoming session,” Leef said. “MKs and ministers who ignored the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators demanding social justice will now have to deal with activists inside and outside of the Knesset.

“We won’t give up until we get what we demand,” she said.

Other, less political events are expected to take center stage in the Knesset on Monday, as well.

A booth in which MKs and visitors can vote for the Dead Sea as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature will be installed that morning.

Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov encouraged all to vote at, saying that “a win in the competition will make the Israeli tourism product unique, bring investments in helping the sea and the area surrounding it, and will bring hundreds of thousands of tourists to Israel.” The voting ends November 11.

The plenum chamber underwent extensive renovations for the first time in 20 years this summer, which included rewiring and installing new carpeting, as well as computer and communications systems. The improved chamber will be used for the first time in a Knesset session on Monday.

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