Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The 21st Knesset is being inaugurated on Tuesday, welcoming 49 first-time lawmakers.
MKs are attending the day full of ceremonies and events with their families, where they will receive their Knesset identification cards, and boutonnières to wear. And IDF band will be present to play a fanfare for President Reuven Rivlin, who will examine a Knesset Security honor guard with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, upon his arrival.
The culmination of the day will be in the afternoon when all 120 MKs are sworn in with Edelstein reading the declaration: “I commit to being faithful to the State of Israel and faithfully fulfill my duties in the Knesset.” The new MKs will respond: “I commit.”
After raising a celebratory glass of wine in the Knesset’s Chagall Hall, adorned with tapestries and mosaics designed by artist Marc Chagall, the MKs will be asked to return to partake in the 21st Knesset’s first votes. The topics will be on the identity of the Knesset Speaker - Edelstein is unopposed for a third consecutive term - and the members of the “arrangements committee” which will assign committee memberships and chairmanships.
The arrangements committee’s decisions will be finalized at the end of coalition negotiations, but the committee, with Likud MK Miki Zohar at the helm, plans on Tuesday evening to appoint temporary members of the Finance Committee and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, in case there are urgent matters requiring a vote.
MKs also received their seating arrangements on Monday. Shas MK Michael Malkieli asked that his seat be moved in order to not sit with a woman, MK Osnat Mark of Likud, and will be seated next to Likud newcomer Ariel Kalner, instead.
Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich will not attend the inauguration, because the veteran MK decided not to return early from a vacation abroad. The Knesset legal department determined that she can be sworn in at another time.
On Monday, freshman MKs attended an orientation program hosted by the Knesset. Knesset Security guards and ushers were given photographs of the lawmakers so they would recognize them.
The vast majority of the 46 newcomers attended, though Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and Labor leader Avi Gabbay – who was a minister, but never a legislator - were notably absent.
Blue and White MK Merav Cohen arrived on foot from her Jerusalem home, with a backpack in tow.
The orientation program, led by Knesset Secretary Yardena Maller-Horowitz, included explanations as to how the Knesset works, from passing laws to oversight of the executive and motions to the agenda, salaries and benefits and security issues.
Edelstein pointed out that, in the previous Knesset, 5977 bills were proposed but only 4% passed into law, and 77% were never even brought to a vote.
“I’m not saying don’t legislate. Legislate! But look at the full picture, at whether [the bill] is possible and if it justifies all the wasted resources and taxpayer money…Let’s only propose bills that have a chance to progress,” Edelstein said.
The Speaker suggested that MKs put more of an emphasis on oversight of the government, saying that it is a core job of the legislature, and encouraged them to take part in Knesset delegations to international parliamentary organizations.
Meanwhile, coalition talks were put on hold on Monday and no further negotiations are expected to take place on Tuesday.
Still, Yisrael Beytenu expressed concern about demands haredi parties are making, which they said they cannot accept.
“We’re concerned that they’re power-hungry and have a big appetite,” senior Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forrer told ynet. “There’s a possibility that we will sit in the opposition; we are full of surprises.”
Meanwhile, the Union of Right-Wing Parties plans to add the role of deputy defense minister, held by MK Eli Ben-Dahan in the last term, to its list of demands.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to ask coalition partners to accept a two-thirds cut to Kan’s budget, adding up to half a billion shekels, which would results in the sacking of hundreds of workers, Channel 13 reported. Netanyahu has long been for shuttering the public broadcaster.
Signifying readiness to accept the term from the party most likely to oppose it, Economy Minister Eli Cohen of Kulanu told Channel 13 that the money could go to improving health services, instead.
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