13 New Israeli Lawmakers Sworn In, Including First Deaf MK

The lawmakers entered the Knesset under the controversial Norwegian Law which allows ministers to resign their Knesset seats in order to open up places in the Knesset for other party members

Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel
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Shirley Pinto-Kadosh, the first deaf member of Knesset
Shirley Pinto-Kadosh, the first deaf member of Knesset
Noa Shpigel
Noa Shpigel

13 new MKs are joining the Knesset on Wednesday following the resignation of coalition ministers from their Knesset membership in accordance with the Norwegian Law.

The law, passed in 2015, allows cabinet ministers and deputy ministers to resign their Knesset seats in order to open up places in the Knesset for other party members and still return to the Knesset if the government falls.

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This raises the number of female lawmakers from 30 to 34, including Shirley Pinto-Kadosh from Yamina who will be the first deaf MK.  Pinto took her oath in sign language to replace Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana.

In Yisrael Beitenu, Professor Yossi Shein, attorney Limor Magen-Telem and Dr. Elina Bardach-Yalov replaced the resigning ministers – Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Minister in the Finance Ministry Hamad Amar and Agriculture Minister and Minister for Development of the Periphery, Negev and Galilee Oded Forer. In Kahol Lavan, Mufid Mari, Ruth Wasserman Lande and Alon Tal will serve in place of Absorption and Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, Culture and Sport Minister Chili Tropper and Science Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen.

The New Hope Knesset faction is joined by outgoing Eilat mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi and Zvika Hauser, who is returning to the Knesset, in place of Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and Housing Minister and Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

In place of Economy Minister Orna Barbivai and Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov from Yesh Atid are new MKs Tanya Mazarsky and Yasmin Sacks Friedman. In Meretz, Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg and Regional Cooperation Minister Issawi Frej resigned to make way for returning MK Michal Rozin and attorney Gaby Lasky.

On Tuesday, Shai Maimon, who held the ninth slot on the Yamina list, informed the Knesset Speaker that he was resigning over Yamina’s decision to sit in a coalition with Ra’am.

In the statement he issued, he wrote, “I will not break our promise to the public not to rely on votes from a party of terror supporters. I will not turn my back on my friends from the bereaved families and victims of terror attacks. We promised not to rely on a party that supports the continued distribution of payments to terrorists, that visits terrorist murderers of Jews in prison, that opposes the State of Israel and the Jewish nation-state.” His resignation paved the way for the Norwegian Law to be invoked and to bring in new MKs from further down the party list who agree with Yamina’s policy and will not act as stumbling blocks for the coalition.

The Labor faction is also expected to make use of the Norwegian Law with the resignation of Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev, who will be replaced by Haifa city councilwoman Naama Lazimi.

Pinto-Kadosh, an activist for the rights of the hearing-impaired and for accessibility for people with disabilities, has been deaf from birth, and was born to two deaf parents. She joined the New Right party ahead of the elections for the 21st Knesset, and now she will be the first deaf MK to serve in the parliament. In the last few days, the needed adaptations were made to enable Pinto-Kadosh to perform her duties.

The Knesset has announced that, for the first time, a sign language interpreter will translate for MK Pinto-Kadosh during Knesset sessions and speak for her using a special microphone that will be attached to the plenum’s main sound system. From her seat, she will have a close-up view of her interpreter, enabling her to be involved in the proceedings as they happen. Also, in her Knesset office, a light will be installed that will flash when the bell announcing an upcoming vote rings.

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