Fewer female, LGBT members in new Knesset

If Blue and White forms the next coalition, they plan to nominate MK and former welfare minister Meir Cohen as Knesset Speaker.

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September 20, 2019 00:40
3 minute read.
Fewer female, LGBT members in new Knesset

Likud MK Amir Ohana reads during a debate in the Knesset plenum . (photo credit: Courtesy)

The 22nd Knesset will have eight new members and nine MKs returning after a hiatus when it is inaugurated on October 3, a final count of 4,440,141 votes indicated. The previous Knesset broke a record for most new MKs, with 49.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein is expected to preside over the new Knesset’s inauguration next month, which is set for after Rosh Hashanah and the Fast of Gedaliya. If Blue and White forms the next coalition, they plan to nominate MK and former welfare minister Meir Cohen as Knesset speaker.

The new Knesset will have 28 female MKs, one less than the Knesset sworn in in April. The 20th Knesset (2015-2019) reached a record high of 35 women, but had only 28 immediately after the election.

And the Knesset will only have four members of the LGBT community – Amir Ohana of Likud, Itzik Shmuly of Labor-Gesher, Eitan Ginzburg of Blue and White, and Democratic Union leader Nitzan Horowitz, returning to the Knesset after four years away. The two members of Blue and White who didn’t make it from the 21st to the 22nd Knesset, Idan Roll and Yorai Lahav Herzanu, are also gay.

Like the previous Knesset, the new one will have three former IDF chiefs of staff – Benny Gantz, Gabi Ashkenazi and Bogie Ayalon – as well as former major-generals Elazar Stern and Orna Barbivai in Blue and White, Yoav Galant in Likud and Yair Golan in Democratic Union. There are also three former IAF pilots in the Knesset: Yamina’s Rafi Peretz – who was also chief rabbi of the IDF – Matan Kahane, and Likud MK Yoav Kisch. Likud MK Avi Dichter was the head of the Shin Bet, and Blue and White’s Ram Ben Barak was deputy Mossad chief.

After Likud’s merger with Kulanu and then losing several seats, MKs Petin Mulla, May Golan, Uzi Dayan, Ariel Kallner and Osnat Hila Mark – all of whom were newcomers in April – will not be back.

Yisrael Beytenu’s new MKs are former Immigration and Absorption Ministry director-general Alex Kushnir and former Sderot Mayor Mark Ifraimov. Longtime MK and deputy Knesset speaker Hamad Amar came back.

In the Joint List, the newcomers are Walid Taha, Jaber Asakla and Sami Abu Shahada. Former MK Saeed Alharumi returned.

There will be 13 Arab MKs in the Knesset, all from the Joint List, and three Druze – Amar, Asakla and Gdeer Mreeh, the first female Druze MK, who was sworn in in April.

Former deputy IDF chief of staff Yair Golan of the Democratic Union is also new to the Knesset, as well as ex-Bet Shemesh mayor Moshe Abutbul.

Former ministers Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett, whose New Right Party didn’t make it into the last Knesset, are back via the Yamina list, which also brings in new MK and former fighter pilot Matan Kahane.

Labor-Gesher revived the parliamentary careers of Orly Levy-Abécassis, Merav Michaeli, Omer Bar-Lev and Revital Swid, after three of its MKs from the 21st Knesset left politics: Avi Gabbay, Tal Russo and Shelly Yacimovich.

Bar-Lev is the son of former IDF chief of staff and minister Haim Bar-Lev, and Levy-Abécassis is the daughter of former minister David Levy. Other children of MKs are Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid, UTJ’s Meir Porush, Shas’ Yinon Azoulay and Likud’s Tzachi Hanegbi.

Many more new MKs could be sworn in within a few months if coalition parties take advantage of the “Mini-Norwegian Law,” which allows one minister or deputy minister to resign and for the next candidate on his or her party’s list to enter the Knesset; however, if the minister quits the government or is sacked, he or she can return to the Knesset and the new MK is removed.

This may be the first Knesset in which no member has a mustache without a beard, after Labor-Gesher leader Amir Peretz shaved his off in an election campaign stunt, and Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi did as well to much less fanfare.


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