Knesset speaker prepares MKs for the intense year ahead

Former refusenik Yuli Edelstein tells Cyprus counterpart his views on Syria: All dictatorships collapse eventually.

Edelstein meets with Cyprus counterpart 370 (photo credit: Knesset Speaker's Office)
Edelstein meets with Cyprus counterpart 370
(photo credit: Knesset Speaker's Office)
MKs have a great responsibility, as they will deal with major societal concerns in the coming months, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein warned in his Rosh Hashana message to lawmakers Monday.
“This was a tense year, a year of elections and choices, a year of everyday challenges and those from abroad. The Knesset had to pass a difficult budget and take care of painful social issues,” Edelstein said in a YouTube video addressed to MKs.
As elected officials and public representatives, legislators have major responsibilities, he added.
In the next session, which begins in mid-October, the Knesset will deal with haredi enlistment, Beduin land claims in the Negev, electoral reform and the peace process, each of which “can rip our society to shreds,” and the combination will lead to a great amount of tension.
“We must be careful in what we say, learn how to express ourselves and know when is the time to talk and when to be quiet,” Edelstein advised.
“Public service is a burden and a commitment, not power. Whoever represents the public must adopt a broad outlook, good manners and appropriate demeanor in his speech and behavior.”
The Knesset speaker added that MKs should not behave hastily or drag citizens into culture wars or discrimination between the majority and minority.
“We must be moderate, show good judgement and patience and think about the good of the entire society. We cannot aim for immediate achievements, or to defeat and humiliate our rivals. Every discussion and argument on the budget, or the Land of Israel or about peace must be dignified and in the appropriate framework,” he added.
Edelstein commended the unusual number of freshman MKs – 47 – for quickly learning the ins and outs of parliamentary work.
“I believe with all my heart that we have the power and ability to argue without fighting, to be opposed without giving up, and to lead processes with respect toward those who are against them,” Edelstein concluded. “I turn to you to behave with respect for the institution and the democratic process. I believe we can do this.”
Earlier Monday, Edelstein met with his Cypriot counterpart, Yiannakis Omirou, in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, where they signed an agreement for the two countries to cooperate in areas of culture, economics, natural resources and more.
Edelstein and Omirou discussed the situation in Syria, among other issues. The former, who spent years in a Soviet prison before being allowed to immigrate to Israel, said that “one can’t rely on dictatorships to last for long; eventually, they collapse.”
“It’s terrible to see children being slaughtered, but on the other hand, we cannot act according to our gut feelings without examining the ramifications,” he said.
Edelstein asked Omirou to speak out against the European Union boycotting Israeli products and research from over the Green Line.
“Cyprus is the closest country to Israel that is part of the EU, and we see it as a good friend,” Edelstein stated.
Omirou responded that Israel can see Cyprus as its representative in the EU and the European Parliament.