Meet the new MK: Shai Hermesh - in, out, and in again

shai hermesh 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
shai hermesh 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For new Kadima MK Shai Hermesh, the road to the Knesset was a bumpy one. He was all but in, then definitely out and suddenly back in again. As No. 30 on the party list, every poll prior to the elections saw Hermesh secure in his Knesset seat. Then Election Day came and Kadima won only 29 seats. "I went to sleep on election night thinking I was already in. It was not pleasant to wake up in the morning and find out I was not in the Knesset," said Hermesh, who took the news well and went back to his job as treasurer of the Jewish Agency. Several weeks later, he was a dedication ceremony when he received a call from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert informing him that Prof. Uriel Reichman had decided to quit the Knesset and that Hermesh was to replace him. "It was a roller coaster, but I am finally happy to have arrived," Hermesh said. Two weeks into the job, he has already landed a spot on the prestigious Finance Committee. He said his previous jobs as Jewish Agency treasurer and head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council prepared him for his new position. "wI hope to advance and improve funding for many problematic issues that I encountered through my previous work," Hermesh said. This week, he organized a special Knesset session to discuss security issues facing towns bordering the Gaza Strip. Although he hopes that he will be able to secure funding to fortify those towns, he doesn't plan to propose bills any time soon. "One of the biggest problems in this country is that new MKs take it upon themselves to write bill after bill. There are enough bills in this country; we need to work to improve the laws we already have," he said. Regardless of how he will use his term, Hermesh's main motivation for joining the Knesset was Ariel Sharon. The two first met when Sharon built his ranch in the Negev. "We quickly became close friends, despite our completely opposite political views... I was left wing, part of Peace Now; he was the father of the settlements," Hermesh said. Sharon, however, surprised everyone, including Hermesh, when he changed his mind and unveiled the disengagement plan. "Suddenly we were thinking the same thing... when he asked me to join Kadima, I immediately told him to sign me up." Hermesh left the Labor Party - he had been a member for nearly 42 years - to join Kadima. Hermesh, who was born in 1944 in Tel Aviv, He still lives in the Sha'ar Hanegev region with his wife, four sons and one daughter. "There are no grandchildren yet, though," he said. "My kids just don't seem to get the point."