Knesset now has record number of non-Jewish MKs

When Shakib Shanan is sworn in as an MK, the 18th Knesset will have a record number of non-Jewish MKs: 15.

February 12, 2012 22:27
1 minute read.
Knesset building

Knesset building 390. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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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 Sunday.

Other non-Jewish MKs are the remaining two members of Balad, Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka, and all four members of the United Arab List-Ta’al faction.

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.

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