(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
It was the first day of school for 48 new Knesset members at the legislature
building in Jerusalem on Sunday, as the newly elected legislators learned the
ropes of a job they hope they will have for at least four years.
came in freshly tailored suits with wide eyes and high expectations, met their
counterparts from other parties, and introduced themselves to ushers who must
learn many new faces in a short period of time.
While some new MKs have
visited the Knesset in other capacities, most of them had never set foot in the
building that is now their new work place.
“Even though unlike other new
MKs I know where the bathroom is, I still feel like I’m starting first grade and
I have so much to learn here,” said new Labor MK Hilik Bar, who has been a
regular visitor as his party’s secretary-general.
His Labor colleague,
Omer Bar-Lev, said the last time he was in the building was when former Egyptian
president Anwar Sadat came to the Knesset in 1977 and his father Haim Bar-Lev
was an MK. He said he hoped other Arab leaders would follow suit during his time
in the Knesset.
New Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman noted the historic
significance of being the first American- born MK in 30 years and called
excitedly when he sat in the Knesset plenum for the first time.
excited because finally, after three decades, the English-speaking community has
a representative in the Knesset,” Lipman said. “I have dreams for where I would
like to see the State of Israel and I can finally do something about it together
with my brothers and sisters in Yesh Atid who have become a family and are ready
to do great things for the Jewish people.”
Incoming Bayit Yehudi MK Yoni
Chetboun said he was already planning his first legislation that would require
equal resources to be given to the poorest sectors of the population.
said he intended to quickly learn his new profession.
The MK-elects were
given seminars on how to be an effective legislator and a tour of the
New Yesh Atid MK Yoel Razbozov, who is a champion judoka, cut
away from the tour to check out the Knesset’s gym.
He said he could use
the facility to train his prized pupil, party chairman Yair
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin warned the incoming MKs who packed
the Knesset’s Jerusalem room to heed the warning that the public gave them when
their predecessors were voted out. He said the public was watching them and
would not tolerate them repeating mistakes of MKs who threw glasses of water at
each other and caused other embarrassments.
“Every Knesset has stars for
a moment,” Rivlin said. “They shine bright for a second like lightning but are
Don’t feel pressure to cause provocations even when
your friends who do gimmicks get more press. You should instead impress the
public by working hard and doing good parliamentary work.”
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who is the Knesset’s oldest and most veteran MK, added
another piece of key advice. “Until you know what you’re doing here,
listen, and don’t talk,” he said.