Meet the MK: Michal Biran

Third in a series on the 48 new members of the 19th Knesset: Labor’s Michal Biran says budget must be more transparent.

Labor MK Michal Biran 370 (photo credit:
Labor MK Michal Biran 370
(photo credit:
Incoming MK Michal Biran, a former assistant to Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, is one of several young social activists on the party’s Knesset slate. She shared her goals and ideas on a break from organizing a protest to keep her party out of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition.
Name: Michal Biran Party: Labor Age: 34 Hometown: Tel Aviv Family status: Single Profession before becoming an MK: Lecturer and doctoral student in political science at Tel Aviv University; before that, assistant to now-Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich
Why did you decide to enter politics? I decided to enter politics one day after the last election. I realized that as a Zionist, a social democrat and a pragmatist, my only choice was Labor, so I rolled up sleeves and started to get experience and work on changing Labor from the inside.
What are the first three bills you plan to propose? They’re already written and [have appeared] on my Facebook page since the Labor primary. The first is to make the budget more transparent, and give MKs a month to learn it and prepare for votes on it. The second bill is to provide better conditions for outsourcing employees, and give them conditions comparable to government workers, as a way to give businesses less of an incentive to outsource. The third is a public, nonprofit pension fund.
What was the most interesting experience on the campaign trail? The night before the election, I participated in a parlor meeting late at night. I found myself with [Meretz candidate] Mossi Raz, [The Tzipi Livni Party candidate] Yoel Hasson and [incoming Bayit Yehudi MK] Ayelet Shaked. It was so close to the election that you could feel the excitement in the air. There was a special atmosphere that I can’t really describe.
This Knesset has a record high of women and religious people. How do you think this will affect the way it functions and the kinds of changes it brings? I hope the high amount of women will be a change for the better, but being a woman is not enough. I hope to find that more people will be willing to fight for the interests of citizens of Israel and not just for the rich. As far as religious people are concerned, I’m secular, so it doesn’t excite me in particular. It doesn’t bother me if someone is religious or not, I care what their ideology is. I’m glad [the] Strong Israel [party] didn’t pass the election threshold.
Do you think haredim and Arabs should do military or national service, and if so, how should the state enforce it? I think everyone needs to serve, but I disagree with the campaign for equality in the burden.
I think it is exclusionary and negativistic and won’t bring real solutions. I think the government needs to give scholarships [to haredim and Arabs] so they can find employment, which will increase the feeling of solidarity with society, so they will want to enlist in military or civilian service.
Do you support a religious-Zionist chief candidate, such as Rabbi David Stav, for the chief rabbinate?I haven’t given this much thought, so I don’t have an answer. What can be done to lower the cost of housing in Israel? Housing needs to be regulated, not lawless. Every building authorization given must include a percentage of apartments for rent, and there should be laws not allowing landlords to raise rent above a certain percentage each year without justification.
Also, contractors who received permission to build and don’t do so in order to increase prices should lose their permit after a few years.
What do you think can be cut in the budget, which must be passed within 45 days of the government’s swearing-in? The easiest thing to cut is the number of ministers and benefits to tycoons. We cannot cut funding for education, welfare and health.
What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state? It is clear to all that there will be a Palestinian state. The question is when and how it will happen. The best situation is for it to be two-sided, not a fact on the ground after unilateral [Palestinian] action, so we can defend Israel’s interests in a better way.
Do you support the adoption of the Edmund Levy Report, which recommends the state approve unauthorized Jewish settlements in the West Bank? I have nothing to say. I think it’s biased.