If the last day of the Knesset’s summer session could be described in one word,
it would be asak.
Asak is a slang term wellknown to those who served in
the IDF. It is an acronym for “the atmosphere at the end of the
Just picture the last week of school: No one is doing homework
anymore; everyone is talking about what trips they have planned; and it is rare
to see someone making a real effort. That was most of the Knesset on
The MK cafeteria, where ministers and party leaders often hold
court on Wednesdays with reporters hungry to hear the latest gossip – whether it
is on or off the record – was a ghost town.
One could almost hear the
rustling of tumbleweeds.
Tourism Minister Stas Meseznikov watched and
chuckled at his spokesman scolding a reporter (of a different publication, of
course) who did not cover his trip to Bulgaria this week. Security told a couple
of tourists they cannot enter. A few Kadima MKs tucked into their lunches at
separate tables, perhaps to avoid being suspected of planning yet another
MKs in the cafeteria approached Minister-without- Portfolio
Yossi Peled (Likud), who was admittedly unsure whether this would be his last
day in the Knesset before his long-planned retirement, but who looked glum,
Several MKs did not hide the fact that they’re ready for
vacation, showing up in jeans. The MKs include some who are often seen in high
heels or suits, as well as MK Dov Henin (Hadash), who always sports
As far as real parliamentary work is concerned – not politics, but
passing laws – the last day of a session is a busy one. This Wednesday, for
example, there were 34 bills on the agenda, a number that only rose as the day
went on. Faction managers geared up for a 12-hour-ormore day, providing their
MKs with lists of the party’s position on each bill.
aside, though, the atmosphere in the Knesset was one of disappointment,
anticlimax and a readiness to start the nearly three-month
Disappointment (of nonharedi MKs, at least), because the promise
of a replacement for the “Tal Law” remains unfulfilled one week before the law,
which allows haredim to indefinitely postpone enlistment, is officially
Yet, equality in the burden, which dominated discourse in the
Knesset this session, was not on the agenda on Wednesday.
because after an attempt to split Kadima from the Right failed, persistent
rumors that MKs would break off from the Left did not come to fruition,
Instead, all reporters wanted to know was which Kadima reporters
are flying to China on Saturday night.
A Kadima mission to China has been
in the works since the days that Tzipi Livni was foreign minister. Despite all
of the turmoil, and the fact that rumors of her possible departure from the
party were in the news as recently as Tuesday, Kadima faction chairwoman Dalia
Itzik insisted on leading the Far East tour in order not to insult the Chinese
Ten MKs were supposed to go, but Itzik had trouble
pulling together a group of six – the minimum the Chinese would accept. Those
definitely attending were MKs Ronit Tirosh, Ya’acov Edri, Akram Hasson, Yulia
Shamolov-Berkovich and, of course, Itzik.
When asked how she could
represent Kadima when, only yesterday, she said she wants to find a group of
seven to break off and called party leader Shaul Mofaz a liar,
Shamolov-Berkovich insisted that she only implied Mofaz is a liar. Anyway, with
the news that Itzik was unable to round up the minimum number of MKs for the
trip, Shamolov Berkovich changed her mind in the evening, saying she wasn’t sure
if she’s going or not, because her 11-year-old is on vacation from school and
they need quality time together.
MK Arieh Bibi (who wore jeans today),
one of the four who were challenged by Mofaz for rebelling, took what other
Kadima MKs called the classier route, and pulled out of the trip. He said his
reason is that he has already been to China.
The inhabitants of the
Knesset reporters’ corridor were so lacking in what to write, that six of them
came out of their offices to listen to Kadima MK Yoel Hasson – one of the
leaders of the leftwing separatist group – say he still isn’t sure whether he’ll
go to China or not, because “the timing is bad.”
He is sure, however,
that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will lose the next election, even if
polls show otherwise.
“Are you breaking off of Kadima with Haim Ramon?”
one reporter wanted to know, hoping for some action on this very asak
“I can definitely say no to that, because Haim Ramon is not a
Knesset member,” Hasson replied, artfully avoiding answering the real question
with a grin.