Israel's 19th Knesset Commences; 48 New MKs Sworn In

A record of 27 female MKs will be entering the Knesset, while one-third of incoming Knesset members will be kippa-wearing religious Jews.

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Israel's 19th Knesset commenced on Tuesday in a festive ceremony led by President Shimon Peres.

The incoming Knesset's 120 members chosen in Israel's election exactly two weeks ago were sworn in throughout the day on Tuesday. The various political parties held their faction meetings of the Knesset session during the day.

Knesset incumbents were joined on Tuesday by an unprecedented 48 new MKs and another four MKs (Shas's Aryeh Deri, Hatnuah's Amram Mitzna, Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu's Tzachi Hanegbi, and Habayit Hayehudi's Nissan Slomiansky) who will re-enter the Knesset after an interim period spent outside it.

A festive cocktail reception opened at 4 P.M. for the formal swearing-in ceremony.


4:57 P.M. After being sworn in, MK Hanin Zuabi leaves Knesset plenum before ISrael's national anthem is sung

4:47 P.M. All 120 Knesset members officially sworn in

4:39 P.M.  Acting Knesset Speaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer: The strongest Iron Dome is the dome of peace.

4:17 P.M. Peres: The Iranian regime is building a nuclear weapon while saying it is against its religion - they are not telling the truth. I believe that President Obama is determined to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons

4:14 P.M. Peres: The Jewish people has suffered from racism. We will not allow racism in Israel.

4:12 P.M. Peres: Approving a new budget is the most urgent mission of the new Knesset

4:05 P.M. President Peres is delivering opening remarks

4:03 P.M. New Knesset members still trying to find their seats in the Knesset plnum

MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor), who is also the most senior member in the incoming Knesset, was appointed temporary Knesset speaker as well. Ben-Eliezer will fill the role of speaker, until the Knesset chooses a replacement, which will likely occur when a government coalition is formed.

In the absence of a government coalition, the Knesset plenum will appoint members to the Knesset Arrangements Committee to select representatives for the three committees that will operate from Tuesday until the establishment of the next government coalition: the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the Knesset Finance Committee and the Knesset House Committee.

The 19th Knesset is expected to differ substantially from the Knesset that preceded it in several aspects. The incoming Knesset will have a record 27 female MKs. The new Knesset will have more kippa-wearing religious Jews, who now constitute one-third of the Knesset's members. The incoming Knesset will also have more journalists, with nine of the incoming MKs having previously worked in the media. Another three incoming MKS gained experience in politics by serving as the head of the National Union of Israeli Students. The 19th Knesset also won't lack for individuals with national security backgrounds. Two former IDF chiefs of staff, two major generals, four former police commissioners and one former director of the Shin Bet security service and one former deputy head of the Shin Bet will all be present.

Beyond the changes in personnel, the new Knesset is expected to promote a substantially different agenda from the previous one. Alongside a large expected cut to the government budget, Knesset members will seek to promote a law to more equally distribute Israel's social burden by increasing the amount of Israelis who work and serve in the army.

New MKs are also expected to promote an affordable housing reform and changes in Israel's method of governance. One of the topics that were prominent in the previous Knesset, linking Israeli citizenship to perceived loyalty to the state, is expected to take a back seat to other issues, as the number of MKs who supported such legislation has been drastically reduced in the incoming Knesset.

Preparations ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of the 19th Knesset.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi