Rivlin to members of 20th Knesset: End the paralysis of the gov't
President Rivlin opens swearing-in ceremony by urging MKs to conclude coalition talks as soon as possible; new 120-strong parliament includes 39 freshman lawmakers, and record 28 women MKs.
Two weeks after the end of a stormy election season, the Knesset convened Tuesday for a festive swearing-in ceremony, during which the lawmakers of the 20th Knesset were to declare their allegiance to the Israeli parliament and its laws.
President Reuven Rivlin opened the session by urging all parties involved to conclude coalition talks as soon as possible. "The public system has been suffering from paralysis for months and it must be allowed to return to work.
The president explained that, "Three things define the essence of the holiday: Pesach, matza and maror. Similarly, there are three things on which this house stands on: Being a public servant, representing the changing face of Israel and taking responsibility in making decisions. You are the emissaries of the public."
Rivlin asked the MKs to leave behind the squabbles that accompanied the election campaigns and focus on their public service. "The time has come to return to the central actors – the civilians. It is not you who is important, but them."
Rivlin further added: "Do not leave the pain of the people and their demands outside the walls of the Knesset; the plight of the homeless and helpless, the distress of the poor workers, the concerns of the unrecompensed workers, the ongoing concerns of residents of the Gaza border communities. Bring these with you to the party meetings in committee rooms, to this plenum.
"Do not for a second forget who sent you here. The public's trust is the most valuable asset of democracy and that trust is now in your hands," he added.
Veteran MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union), who is serving as temporary Knesset Speaker, also addressed the MKs, saying, "Words can lift you up or pull you down. Incite a war or announce peace. Words are like an arrow shot from a bow – we can never take them back or cancel their effect. We must remember that polished speeches and sharp phrases are not a substitute for meaningful content. We must not blindly follow publicity stunts and gimmicks."
Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuly said his party was headed for the opposition. "According to what I see and hear from Herzog, and I spoke to him personally today, he's heading for the opposition," Shmuly said. "I'm guessing an offer from Netanyahu will come in the coming weeks and he will try to reel us in. Netanyahu is already feeling the international pressure that won't allow a narrow right-wing government to operate for long. We need to be strong enough to resist the temptation."
Meanwhile, new Yesh Atid MK Haim Yellin, the former head of the Eshkol Regional Council, arrived at the Knesset for his first day with a the remains of a Gaza rocket fired at southern Israel.
"I brought a rocket with me for my office so I'll remember where I came from and who I'm representing," Yellin said.
Likud MK Gila Gamliel told Ynet that she was ready to be appointed minister. "I'm the more veteran female MK, I'm ready and my turn has come," she said.
After the less formal gathering, all 120 lawmakers were then to head over to the Knesset for the first official session of parliament, in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin and the outgoing speaker of the 19th Knesset, Likud MK Yuli Edelstein.
The Knesset elder, Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz, will oversee the plenum session as acting Knesset speaker. During the session, MKs will be officially notified that Benjamin Netanyahu has been tasked with forming the next government.
MKs will then select a permanent speaker for the 20th Knesset, after which a government announcement will be issued stating the prime minister will appoint all the ministers and deputy ministers of the 34th Israeli government.
A seminar for new MKs
The 120 Knesset members include 39 just embarking on their legislative careers, who were earlier this week treated to a special seminar on the inner workings of parliament.
The 19th Knesset had 49 new members and a record number of women – 27 in total. That record was broken on March 17, when voters gave 28 women seats in the Knesset. At the seminar earlier this week, Knesset Secretary-General Yardena Meller-Horowitz (the first woman to hold the post) provided the new Knesset members with a comprehensive explanation of how the parliament and its plethora of departments work.
Sports broadcaster and journalist Zuhair Bahalul (Zionist Union) was among the 39 new MKs at the seminar.
"You could say we got similar support when we entered the first grade - it involved a lot of curiosity and a lot of questions," he said.
Bahalul said that he and his new colleagues had learned a thing or two about the workings of the Knesset, "for example, the process of law before its passage (and) the legal pitfalls. These are things that we knew in theory, but were not familiar with the exact process."
The freshman legislators also learned about the work of the Knesset committees, legislative and legal consultation, the Knesset Research Center, and the issues of security at the Knesset compound.
"I'm a little jealous of you, a good jealousy of course", said outgoing Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. "There is nothing quite like the feeling when you make the declaration of allegiance for the first time. In this building, one can also be an idler, but not many of them are re-elected. It all depends on the public responsibility and personal motivation of each and every one of you."
The party with the highest number of new MKs is, unsurprisingly, the new Kulanu faction, whose MKs, aside chairman Moshe Kahlon, are all swearing allegiance for the first time.
The Likud faction will also present 11 new MKs, including Dr. Anat Berko, who said of the seminar: "I felt kind of like I did when I enlisted at the age of 18. It was the (Knesset equivalent of) a recruitment center. We were welcomed very nicely, and I am sure I will learn a lot as we go along. They gave us the feeling that we can ask anything and that we are not supposed to know it all on day one."
Source: Ynet News