(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
"The Knesset Speaker is the only person who should speak at the Independence Day opening ceremony," said opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Monday. "But, if the prime minister makes an appearance, the head of the opposition should speak as well."
In Knesset procedures, the opposition leader has a right to speak after the prime minister.
Herzog spoke on radio station 103 FM following the recent suggestion by Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should speak at the ceremony alongside the speaker of the Knesset and the president.
In the past, the speaker of the Knesset has been the only person to address the audience during the ceremony.
Herzog claimed that originally, the intended speaker for the first Israeli Independence Day ceremony was the president at the time, Chaim Weizman, but due to his ill health, the role was given to then speaker of the Knesset Yosef Sprinzak. And that became the tradition.
"My father served as president for a decade, and he watched the ceremony while sitting with the crowd," Herzog said.
Herzog's father, Chaim Herzog, served as president from 1983 to 1993.
Hezog also complained that Regev was cheapening the ceremony with her remarks.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that the Knesset is at the forefront of the ceremony as the representative of all Israelis and objected to the changes proposed by Regev.
Regev insisted that while there is a tradition of the Knesset speaker being the sole speaker, as the minister in charge of the Committee for Ceremonies and Symbols, she has full powers to alter the ceremony, despite previous customs.
“Who does it bother that once in 70 years, the president, prime minister and Knesset speaker will speak at the torch-lighting ceremony?” Regev asked. “For God’s sake, how does that make it less statesmanlike?"
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