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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
As part of her ongoing quest to make her mark as the Knesset's first female speaker, Dalia Itzik is giving the venerable institution a face-lift.
At first, it was the subtle rearrangement of chairs in the lobby of the committee wing. Then came new hanging carpets in the Knesset's entrance. Suddenly, there were no copy machines or water coolers to be found in the hallways around the MK's offices.
"Some redecorating is fine, but we need those copy machines to get our jobs done," said Shimon Ben-David, a parliamentary aide to MK Moshe Kahlon (Likud) and the de facto head of the parliamentary assistant's union. "We make copies of everything that comes through our offices. Those machines used to be hooked up directly to our computers; not having them around is going to be a massive problem."
According to Ben-David, the copy machines were removed because they were "unsightly." A Knesset spokesman, however, said that they were merely relocated for practical, as much as aesthetic, reasons.
"It was uncomfortable to have those machines in the middle of the hallways. Several MKs complained that everyone could see what they were copying," said the spokesman. "Now all the copy machines are in one room, at the end of the hallway."
Despite being grouped together, Ben-David said that only one of the machines was currently hooked up, and the new arrangement made for cramped quarters.
"There was no communication. No one let us know. We show up one morning and bam! They are gone," said Ben-David.
According to Knesset guidelines however, the speaker of the Knesset has "control" over the parliamentary building, including free reign to decorate it as he/she pleases.
"Dalia [Itzik] can make those decisions as she pleases," said the spokesman, who added that there was a selection of pre-selected artwork for Itzik to browse and dispense at will.
The new decorations have caused problems for others as well, including one tour guide who said that the removal of chairs from the committee wing had put her in an uncomfortable spot.
"Now, when I give tours, everyone sits on the floor to listen," said the guide. "Isn't that more unsightly than a few shabby chairs?"
The guide added that the lack of seating arrangements also caused problems for the more elderly members of her tours, who complained that they had nowhere to rest during the tour.