Opening session of the 19th Knesset

Published on Tuesday, 05 February 2013 by Webmaster

Opening session of the 19th Knesset
The 19th Knesset convened for its inaugural session Tuesday, a traditional plenum session during which all Knesset members pledged their allegiance to the State and its laws.

The new Knesset has a record number of new legislators – 53 – and 48 of them have never held a parliamentary seat. The 19th Knesset now also holds the record for having the highest number of women and religious MKs – 27 and 38 respectively. Thirteen of the house members are Arab and Druze.

President Shimon Peres officially ushered in the new Knesset. "On its 64 anniversary, the Israeli Knesset won renewed trust and legitimacy," he said in his speech.

"The public's eyes are on you, members of Knesset, in the hope that you'll prove to be worthy emissaries for the creation of a better future."

Peres also referred to the large number of first-time parliament members and women members and said that "it's an achievement, but still a far cry from the proper balance."

The president added that "we are facing grave challenges which may prove to be existential threats or the gateway to new possibilities. We must examine ourselves and look to the outside, with a watchful eye. Israel is an island in a raging ocean; it must protect the lonely island, and act to calm the seas."

Addressing the economic and social issues, Peres said that he "calls on members of the house to undertake the effort to curb the deficit and achieve new growth. The great challenge standing before you, members of Knesset, is to answer the nation's expectation for social reform.

The MKs were later sworn in during a ceremony presided over by Chief Justice Asher Grunis, with President Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu serving as witnesses.

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