The 120 members of Israel’s 25th Knesset will be sworn in on Tuesday, ushering in a right-wing, religious majority that has vowed to pursue a radical agenda, while providing Israel with long-sought domestic political stability after a cycle of five elections in less than four years.

Despite Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s vigorous efforts, Israel’s 37th government will not be sworn in alongside its lawmakers, as contested ministerial portfolios and disputed policy goals have yet to be reconciled and codified in coalition agreements.

While particular drama has come to a head between Netanyahu and his far-right partner Bezalel Smotrich over the assignment of senior ministry posts, the parties are expected to come terms well before the December 11 deadline for forming a government. Comprising of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, two ultra-Orthodox parties and the far-right Religious Zionism alliance, the coalition would be the most hawkish government in Israel’s 74-year history.

The Netanyahu-led bloc won a decisive, 64-seat victory in the November 1 election — the first since 2015 that handed a majority to a bloc of closely aligned parties. However, it only narrowly won the popular vote, and nearly half the electorate bitterly opposes its right, far-right and ultra-Orthodox components. In accepting the task of forming a coalition on Sunday, Netanyahu acknowledged the national divides, and promised to govern for all Israelis — “those who voted for me and those who did not.”

The past 19 months have been especially politically turbulent, marked by mutual venom spewed between Yesh Atid chair Yair Lapid and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett’s shortlived government and the Netanyahu-led opposition, which climaxed during a heated four-month-long election campaign.

Ahead of Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy said that his hope is “that the 25th Knesset will be a positive turning point in the discourse and in the way Knesset members conduct their debates.”

Earlier on Monday, Levy told the class of 23 freshman MKs that the outgoing Knesset was “a bad example of the way in which discourse is conducted in a democratic society.”

“There are difficult arguments here, but I recommend that you speak to the merits of the matter and not direct comments against a person while conducting a respectful conversation,” Levy said.

However, the 25th Knesset is already shaping up to carry some of the mutual nastiness forward.

On Sunday, prospective public security minister and far-right Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir taunted Hadash-Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi, tweeting that he should be sent to Syria after the veteran Arab lawmaker expressed his support for late PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.

“What are you waiting for?” Tibi tweeted back

“Deport me. You’re in power. Go ahead and deport me/us to Syria,” Tibi continued.

Ben Gvir campaigned on a tough-on-terror platform and advocates deporting “disloyal” Arab citizens along with those who carry out terror attacks. He has routinely called Tibi a terrorist, and been evicted from the Knesset plenum for doing so.

Tibi is a former adviser to Arafat and one of the nine Muslim lawmakers in the incoming Knesset. The new parliament also only has one Druze lawmaker, 29 women, and three openly gay lawmakers, spread across 10 parties. Within the expected coalition, demographic variation drops precipitously to nine women, one openly gay lawmaker, and zero Arab parliamentarians.

Concerns raised by commentators about the lack of diversity are not ameliorated by some of the policies members of the incoming coalition say they will pursue. Among their most fiery are proposals to ban gay pride parades, reinstitute conversion therapy, roll back religious reforms, and revoke state recognition of non-Orthodox conversion.

On the security front, in addition to Ben Gvir’s deportation proposals, the would-be police minister wants to relax open-fire rules against Palestinian protesters and stone-throwers.

All parties in the expected incoming government also support sweeping judicial reform that would place the judiciary under much more stringent political check. In particular, the parties want to advance an override clause by which the Knesset can reinstitute laws invalidated by the Supreme Court, as well as place the judicial appointments process under political control.

Religious Zionism has also proposed canceling the main corruption charges for which Netanyahu is standing trial. Ben Gvir has gone further and said he would pass a law that would retroactively grant Netanyahu and sitting prime ministers immunity from indictment.

President Isaac Herzog will preside over Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, his first since becoming head of state in 2021. Staged as a festive affair, the ceremony is expected to include a Knesset honor guard, a military orchestra and a calvary convoy.

Alongside Herzog will be Levy and Knesset Secretary Dan Marzouk.

A Yesh Atid MK, Levy is expected to be soon replaced as speaker by an MK from the incoming coalition, although this post, too, has yet to be finalized.

Marzouk has the distinction of leading the 120 incoming lawmakers in their swearing-in by roll call.

The standard oath of office for lawmakers states: “I commit to be faithful to the State of Israel and to fulfill with devotion my cause in the Knesset,” to which incoming lawmakers are expected to respond: “I commit.”

A minor outcry occurred in April 2021, when several Joint List MKs changed the wording of their oaths to commit to fighting “occupation” and “racists.” They were later re-sworn into parliament without the extra wordage.

The 23 freshmen MKs participated in a day-long introductory course on Monday during which they met with Knesset management, toured the labyrinthian building and received an overview of the complicated and various parliamentary tools at the lawmakers’ disposal.

Marzouk, who taught incoming legislators how to use various tools to influence the parliamentary and public agendas, told the new MKs that although some days may slog into a bureaucratic routine, they are “acting in the service of great ideas.”

“Remember that at the end of the day, the goal is to build a more correct state and society, each according to his own method and view,” the Knesset secretary said.

I joined The Times of Israel after many years covering US and Israeli politics for Hebrew news outlets.

I believe responsible coverage of Israeli politicians means presenting a 360 degree view of their words and deeds – not only conveying what occurs, but also what that means in the broader context of Israeli society and the region.

That’s hard to do because you can rarely take politicians at face value – you must go the extra mile to present full context and try to overcome your own biases.

I’m proud of our work that tells the story of Israeli politics straight and comprehensively. I believe Israel is stronger and more democratic when professional journalists do that tough job well.

Your support for our work by joining The Times of Israel Community helps ensure we can continue to do so.

Thank you,
Tal Schneider, Political Correspondent

We’re really pleased that you’ve read X Times of Israel articles in the past month.

That’s why we started the Times of Israel ten years ago - to provide discerning readers like you with must-read coverage of Israel and the Jewish world.

So now we have a request. Unlike other news outlets, we haven’t put up a paywall. But as the journalism we do is costly, we invite readers for whom The Times of Israel has become important to help support our work by joining The Times of Israel Community.

For as little as $6 a month you can help support our quality journalism while enjoying The Times of Israel AD-FREE, as well as accessing exclusive content available only to Times of Israel Community members.

Thank you,
David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel

QOSHE - Knesset swear-in begins era of political stability, but discourse unlikely to soften - Carrie Keller-Lynn
We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

Knesset swear-in begins era of political stability, but discourse unlikely to soften

51 13 10
15.11.2022

The 120 members of Israel’s 25th Knesset will be sworn in on Tuesday, ushering in a right-wing, religious majority that has vowed to pursue a radical agenda, while providing Israel with long-sought domestic political stability after a cycle of five elections in less than four years.

Despite Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s vigorous efforts, Israel’s 37th government will not be sworn in alongside its lawmakers, as contested ministerial portfolios and disputed policy goals have yet to be reconciled and codified in coalition agreements.

While particular drama has come to a head between Netanyahu and his far-right partner Bezalel Smotrich over the assignment of senior ministry posts, the parties are expected to come terms well before the December 11 deadline for forming a government. Comprising of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, two ultra-Orthodox parties and the far-right Religious Zionism alliance, the coalition would be the most hawkish government in Israel’s 74-year history.

The Netanyahu-led bloc won a decisive, 64-seat victory in the November 1 election — the first since 2015 that handed a majority to a bloc of closely aligned parties. However, it only narrowly won the popular vote, and nearly half the electorate bitterly opposes its right, far-right and ultra-Orthodox components. In accepting the task of forming a coalition on Sunday, Netanyahu acknowledged the national divides, and promised to govern for all Israelis — “those who voted for me and those who did not.”

The past 19 months have been especially politically turbulent, marked by mutual venom spewed between Yesh Atid chair Yair Lapid and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett’s shortlived government and the Netanyahu-led opposition, which climaxed during a heated four-month-long election campaign.

Ahead of Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy said that his hope is “that the 25th Knesset will be a positive turning point in the discourse and in the way Knesset members conduct their debates.”

Earlier........

© The Times of Israel


Get it on Google Play