Netanyahu: Thanks to the opposition, I have time to read

Ministers bring reading materials to the plenum for boring budget votes; PM delves into a Churchill biography, while Bennett prefers Lincoln.

July 29, 2013 20:45
1 minute read.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid reading 370. (photo credit: Noa Amir )


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Voting on the state budget is not fun for MKs, to say the least.

There are no speeches to interrupt with clever comments, just hour after hour of responding to manual roll call votes called by the opposition to intentionally drag out the legislative process as long as possible and exhaust the coalition.

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So, how do MKs pass the time in the plenum? Some of the government’s most senior ministers brought books to read.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu read The Last Lion, a biography of his idol, former UK prime minister Winston Churchill, in English, occasionally taking notes.

During the marathon budget vote, Netanyahu approached Yesh Atid MKs Boaz Toporovsky and Dov Lipman, who were reading Lipman’s book on Jewish philosophy Discover and the Book of Daniel, respectively, and quipped: “We should thank the opposition for giving us time to read.”

Although Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett has been known to quote Theodore Roosevelt, he chose a different former US president to read up on – in English – during budget votes: Abraham Lincoln.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Yair Lapid chose a book by a fellow MK, Labor’s Nachman Shai. Earlier this year, Shai published Media War: Reaching for Hearts and Minds, a book about Israeli public diplomacy in times of conflict.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon read Mishmar Ha’emek Will Not Fall, a book about the 1948 War of Independence.

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz delved into The Wallet and the Sword, a book by former justice minister Daniel Friedmann on the complex relationship between the judiciary and the executive and legislative branches of Israeli government.

MK Michal Biran (Labor) did not come prepared with a book, but she took out a biography of Labor ideological forebear Berl Katznelson from the Knesset library.

The Knesset’s resident Talmud professor, MK Ruth Calderon (Yesh Atid), studied Mishna, as did Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev. MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid) read a book about Maimonides.

Not everyone was reading in the plenum. Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir and Transportation Minister Israel Katz were spotted playing the game “Flow” on Shamir’s iPad.

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