Ariel Sharon (2nd L) points next to Yitzhak Navon (L) while watching a large scale military drill, December 4, 1985.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
It has never happened throughout the history of the modern State of Israel that any one party should occupy all 120 seats in the Knesset. Nonetheless, some of the parties, especially Labor go through a pro forma ceremony in which a respected party member is ranked 120.
This time around it was Israel’s fifth President Yitzhak Navon who is both a former Knesset Member and a former Minister of Education. In fact he is the only president who returned to politics after completing his term.
He is also the oldest person on any Knesset list and will celebrate his 94th birthday just over three weeks after the elections.
Economy Minister and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett on learning that Navon had been invited to fill the 120th slot on the combined Labor-Hatnua list, urged him not to sign the forms necessary for his inclusion if it meant being on the same list as Merav Michaeli who in a broadcast on Army Radio had called on mothers not to send their children to the IDF for as long as there was occupation. By the same token, Bennett urged Navon not to align his name with that of Yossi Yona who wanted to merge Nakba Day with Holocaust Remembrance Day, or with that of Zuhair Bahloul, who he said identifies more with the Palestinians than with Israel.
Navon, a dedicated Labor man, a close aide and disciple of Ben Gurion’s, a member of six Knessets, and twice a deputy prime minister, chose to ignore Bennett and when Labor Party Secretary General Hilik Bar showed up at his home in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, Navon said there was no greater honor than being asked to join the list. Bar thanked Navon in his own name and that of party leader Isaac Herzog. Navon said that he had accepted the invitation because he believes in the partnering of the two parties in the Zionist Camp, and also in the hope of seeing the integration of party veterans with young people who are bringing in new strength.