Good-bye, 17th Knesset

From Katsav case to Olmert resignation, parliament faced stormy times.

knesset 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
knesset 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Two weeks after the opening of the 17th Knesset's fourth session, it was dissolved on Monday ahead of the upcoming elections. Though this Knesset may not be notable for any great achievement, it would be fair to remember that it operated in truly stormy political times. It was ushered in with the rape allegations against former president Moshe Katsav and then the Second Lebanon War, followed by the Winograd Commission's investigation and numerous police probes of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. All this culminated with Olmert's decision not to compete in the Kadima leadership primary and to resign as prime minister. Nonetheless, the 17th Knesset has had some noteworthy accomplishments. For the first time in Israel's history, a woman was appointed Knesset Speaker, MK Dalia Itzik (Kadima). It was Itzik who facilitated the opening of the new Knesset wing, which improved working conditions for the MKs. Several MKs left their mark with devoted parliamentary work. MK Gilad Erdan (Likud) managed to get 23 bills that he initiated passed into law. Just behind Erdan was MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) with 22 passed, MK Zevulun Orlev (NU-NRP) with 18, MK Shelly Yacimovich (Labor) with 17, and MK Yitzhak Levy (NU-NRP) with 12 laws. Yacimovich and Sa'ar are worth mentioning together for their work passing laws that benefited women, including the law that lengthened maternity leave and another that prohibits firing a woman during fertility treatments. Another prominent MK who had some success was MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor), chairman of the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, who lobbied for the Knesset's approval of various "green" laws, including the Clean Air Law that was also initiated by MK Dov Hanin (Hadash). Erdan, did his part in promoting numerous pro-consumer laws, including a law limiting the fees charged by the banks, and the technicians law that imposes sanctions on service providers who don't respect the customer's time. MKs who didn't initiate a single bill throughout this Knesset were Abraham Hirchson (Kadima), Ibrahim Sarsour (Ra'am) and Said Nafa (Ta'al). Right behind these lawmakers were Abbas Zakour and Talab a-Sanaa (Ra'am) who managed to bring only one bill for second and third readings over the past two-and-a-half years. The 17th Knesset also approved the controversial "Dromi Law" that allows property owners to shoot burglars during a break-in. No less than 13 MKs retired during this Knesset. Among them were Efraim Sneh and Danny Yatom (Labor), Yossi Beilin and Ran Cohen (Meretz), and Danny Naveh (Likud). This Knesset may also be remembered for the embarrassing headlines its MKs have made. Some might recall the argument between Education Minister Yuli Tamir and MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima), the former Education Ministry director-general. "I am still removing the garbage you left in the system," Tamir told Tirosh. In response, Tirosh exclaimed, "I can't believe it! She just called me a piece of shit!" Some 40 MKs are not likely to return to the 18th Knesset, as statistically, each general election bring in about 40 new MKs. It's up to the parties, and the public, to determine who will stay, and who will go.