Israel's newest MK - Canadian-born, Aussie-educated woman who backs legalizing pot

Just 31 years of age, Sharren Haskel is a veterinary nurse by trade as well as a former debate champion.

By ARIK BENDER
August 14, 2015 19:37
2 minute read.
MK Sharren Haskel (Likud)

MK Sharren Haskel (Likud). (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

 
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With Danny Danon set to depart for New York to represent Israel as the next ambassador to the United Nations, the public will soon be introduced to a fresh face from the Likud list that will ascend to the parliament - Sharren Haskel.

Born in Canada, Haskel, who becomes a parliamentarian by virtue of her being No. 31 on the Likud list, served in the Border Police during her military service. Just 31 years of age, Haskel is a veterinarian nurse by trade as well as a former debate champion.

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Haskel was on a presumably nerve-wracking wait in recent weeks in anticipation of her entry to the Knesset as lawmakers discussed the so-called "Norwegian Law."

The Knesset voted 64-51 last month to pass the “Norwegian law,” which allows ministers and deputy ministers to quit the Knesset and enable the next candidate on their party’s list to enter, but permits the ministers to return to the legislature if they quit the cabinet.

But Likud ministers and deputy ministers were not hurrying to quit the parliament for the Australian-educated Sharren Haskel.

Ministers and deputy ministers in the Likud pointed fingers at one another, each saying another politician should quit for Haskel. Ministers defended themselves by saying they needed to remain in the parliament to fight for the agenda of their ministry. Deputy ministers said they had just entered the Knesset and did not want to leave.

Haskel finally breathed a sigh of relief on Friday morning when she learned from media reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tapped Danon to take up the prestigious post at UN headquarters on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

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"I'd like to congratulate Minister Danny Danon on his appointment to the post of ambassador to the UN and I'm happy that it will enable me to serve the citizens of Israel from the Knesset," she wrote on her Facebook page.

In a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post's corporate sister publication Ma'ariv, Haskel said that she is a devoted advocate of environmental issues, particularly the impact of sewage and waste pollution in the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank.

"I'm an environmental activist," she said. "I'm a veterinarian [nurse] by trade. I've lectured before Likud faction members on these issues, and I was promised that they would throw their support behind my initiatives. I'm just 31 years old, and I have a great deal to learn, but I'm taking advantage of every moment in order to prepare for the eventuality that I'll be a member of Knesset."

Haskel is a supporter of relaxing marijuana laws. In 2004, she won the Israel Debate Championships.

"I've competed in Europe and in Israel," she said. "In my opinion, debating is something that should be taught in schools, and I will recommend that the Knesset offer it to any new lawmaker. It improves self-expression, elevates the culture of debate, and decreases verbal violence."

Haskel was born in Canada. Her parents made aliya and settled in Kfar Sava when she was one year old. After completing her high school studies, she enlisted in the Border Police as a combat officer.

Following her military service, she spent a year in the United States before moving to Australia for six years, where she completed her professional training.

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