Independence Day evening ceremony.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
An ongoing feud between Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Culture Minister Miri Regev has centered around it being unprecedented for a prime minister to speak at the torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl that opens Yom Ha’atzma’ut, as Regev suggested happen in honor of Israel’s 70th year.
However, that premise has turned out to be false. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the torch-lighting ceremony on Israel’s 50th Independence Day, as seen in an archival video clip aired on Channel 1 Tuesday evening.
Netanyahu’s speech at the time was short, and consisted mostly of quoting the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel.
Regev seeks to have Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin speak at the ceremony this year instead of just the Knesset speaker, as in most years. Edelstein strongly opposes the change, saying the Knesset is the representative of the entire nation. The Knesset speaker has said the legislature – including the Knesset guard, which marches during the ceremony – will withdraw its participation if the usual format is altered.
After the video was broadcast, Regev said it put the whole matter into perspective.
“The statement that we must keep tradition because this never happened before turned out tonight to be false. Look, it happened on the jubilee of our independence,” she stated. “Certainly what was official enough for the 50th events is official enough for the 70th. What didn’t bother then-Knesset speaker Dan Tichon should not bother the current Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
Regev expressed hope that all three speakers would take part in the ceremony.
“This is right for the country and for the Israeli public,” she added.
Edelstein’s office said his position has not changed.