(April 30, 2019 / JNS) In the lead-up to the inauguration of Israel’s 21st Knesset, the country’s new leaders got a tour of the premises and a crash course in government and law-making on Monday.
Opposition leaders Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi did not join the 49 new Knesset members for Monday’s orientation. Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay was also not present.
The 21st Knesset has the highest number of new members of any government in Israeli history.
Since the new Knesset members will only receive their state-funded vehicles (and chauffeurs) following today’s inauguration, on Monday everyone arrived in their personal vehicles, except those who arrived on foot, wearing backpacks.
Upon arrival, the new MKs each received a bag emblazoned with the Knesset logo, a 300-page book of Knesset bylaws, a list of benefits, a guide to the legislative process, a Knesset contact list, employee work forms and details of their courtesy car options.
Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, whom many expect will serve for a third term as speaker in the incoming government, had some advice for the incoming contingent.
“I suggest that everyone take a moment,” he said, “and think about why they came to the Knesset.” “Once you have a clear answer on the matter,” he continued, “you will see that everything is at your disposal and you can achieve the goal. The common goal of all of us here is to serve the public that sent you, and I wish success to all of you.”
He urged MKs not to propose extraneous bills, pointing out that just 9 percent of the bills proposed under the previous Knesset actually became law. (Government and committee bills had higher rates of passage at 57 percent and 67 percent, respectively.)
Knesset members will receive salaries of NIS 44,000 ($12,000), budgets of up to NIS 49,000 ($13,000) per year for maintaining an office outside the Knesset, funds to hire up to two aides, an executive car of their choice and an NIS 3,600 ($1,000) per month wardrobe stipend.
According to reports, many MKs took selfies in their newly upholstered leather Knesset plenum seats.
Blue and White Party MK Miki Haimovich, an environmental activist and vegan, reportedly requested that her chair’s upholstery be switched to a vegan option.