New Knesset to Be Sworn in on Thursday, but May Dissolve Soon

Arab Israeli party decides to boycott the festive ceremony as a gesture of protest against inaction by police in regards to an uptick in violence in the Arab community

The opening ceremony of the 21st Knesset in Jerusalem, on April 30, 2019.
Haim Zach

The newly elected members of the 22nd Knesset will be sworn in on Thursday at the festive opening ceremony in Jerusalem.

Seventeen lawmakers who served in the last Knesset are not returning after the recent election. Instead, they were replaced by eight new members, and another nine who have served in previous Knessets.

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Also Wednesday, Joint List Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi announced to the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee that the 13 Arab lawmakers of the Arab-majority party will be absent from the opening ceremony. Their boycott is intended as a gesture of "protest against the wave of murders and violence" in the Israeli Arab community.

The decision to refrain from participating in the event came after the chairman of the Monitoring Committee proposed a general strike on Thursday as a form of protest, which the Joint List plans to implement.

The new Knesset, which may dissolve soon if a new government cannot be formed, will have only 28 women, after a record number of 37 served in the 20th Knesset.

As opposed to the ceremony held only five months ago, it seems that this time the new MKs will not hold a vote to appoint a new speaker yet.

Following Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman's decision not to support any candidate until after a new coalition government is formed, no party was able to secure a majority of votes to name a new speaker.

The Knesset is expected to name the members of the “Arrangements Committee,” the temporary committee that is supposed to manage Knesset sessions and appoint members to other temporary Knesset committees until the establishment of a new government.

By law, the head of the Arrangements Committee is supposed to be an MK from the party of the candidate appointed by the president to form a government, and the committee membership is apportioned according to the relative size of all the parties. In the outgoing Knesset, MK Miki Zohar (Likud) held the post.

The plan for Thursday is to repeat the order of events of the swearing in of the 21st Knesset. President Reuven Rivlin is scheduled to arrive, accompanied by a convoy of motorcycles and mounted police. An honorary guard will welcome him, and it is expected to be accompanied by the Israeli army's orchestra along with acting Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. Three trumpet blasts will sound off as Rivlin enters the Knesset chamber, and then he will speak.

After Rivlin’s opening speech, he will invite Edelstein to swear his oath of office, which will enable him to run the session. Edelstein will then read out the text of the oath of office and all Knesset members will take their turns taking their oaths.

The events will end with a ceremony in the Knesset’s Chagall State Hall, and will include the traditional photograph with all the party leaders, along with a toast with all MKs and their families.