Doing the MK shuffle

Although the Knesset convened for a special session to mark the first annual international day of remembrance for Holocaust victims Thursday, most of the attention focused on the swearing in of five MKs and three ministers. "With all the comings and goings, everyone is confused," said a Knesset spokesman. In all, he said, there were four new Labor MKs and one Likud MK who were sworn in. The three new ministers, Roni Bar-On, Ze'ev Boim and Yaakov Edri, were sworn in as several MKs jokingly called out to demand a recount. During a normal Knesset term, MKs vote to approve ministerial appointments. However, since the Knesset has been dissolved, acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert can assign ministers without Knesset approval. Bar-On will head the Housing and Construction Ministry, Boim will head the National Infrastructure Ministry, while Edri will head the Health Ministry. Three of the new MKs were sworn in to replace former Labor MKs Shimon Peres, Dalia Itzik and Haim Ramon, who resigned from the Knesset after joining Kadima. Effi Oshaya replaced Dalia Itzik, but then stepped down as well, as did Avi Yechezkel, who briefly replaced Ramon. Tova Ilan was then sworn in to replace Itzik, while Weizmann Shiri replaced Shimon Peres. The next name on the Labor list, Shula Cohen, has not yet announced if she will swear in for Yechezkel. Former Labor Party adviser Ronen Tzur took the place of Salah Tarif, while the last Labor MK, Sofa Landver, took the place of retiring MK Avraham Shochat. In the Likud Party, David Mena was sworn in for Omri Sharon. The Knesset is in recess due to the elections, therefore it is possible that Thursday's Knesset session was the only day the new MKs would spend in the plenum. Following the swearing-in ceremony Olmert, Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu, and Labor Party Chairman Amir Peretz were among dozens of MKs to address the Knesset on the issue of anti-Semitism. The three leaders all highlighted the issue of Iran and called for a greater worldwide response to anti-Semitism.