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Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin as usual found the right words for the occasion: "We did not enlarge the Knesset just for magnificence and splendor; we added room for the public to cry out and to be a partner in making the decisions that affect its life."

And it is true. The cries are echoing through the new wing of the Knesset opened officially yesterday, as well as the pounding of the hammer of Religious Affairs Minister Yitzhak Cohen affixing the mezuzot to the doorposts of the rooms.

About NIS 400 million was spent on the 16,000-squ are-meter edifice containing 16 committee rooms.

Forty-eight MKs will receive luxurious new office suites, including a bathroom and shower. There is also a modern gym and an underground parking garage. Soon a dairy cafeteria will open.

The building was built by a private contractor, Shafir Engineering, and the Knesset will pay rent for 25 years, after which the new building will revert to state ownership.

There were, of course, a number of small problems and disappointments with the new quarters. For example, the shelves in the cabinets are too low to place files on them.