Benny Gantz skips Knesset orientation for new lawmakers

The head of the Blue and White Party and his senior colleague Gabi Ashkenazi failed to attend training on how to present laws in the Knesset.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz, who will become the new Opposition leader on Tuesday, did not show up Monday for the Knesset orientation for new MKs that covers the technical aspects of their jobs as legislators. Other senior party figures who have never worked in the Knesset but skipped the class included his Blue and White colleague Gabi Ashkenazi. Labor Party leader Avi Gabay also did not attend the meeting.

When asked about his leaders’ absence, Blue and White MK Yoaz Hendel responded, “I don’t know why they are not present, but from what I understand heads of parties generally do not attend such events.” He was confident, however, that his party would do its parliamentary work “in the best possible manner.”

There are 49 new MKs in the 120-member legislature, and the vast majority did come to learn what is entailed in their jobs from a technical point of view. This included subjects such as presenting bills, how to ask parliamentary questions, the duty to apply to the Ethics Committee to ensure that a free trip abroad will not entail any conflict of interest, and more.

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Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, who will continue in the role in the 21st Knesset that was sworn in on Tuesday, made two major requests of the freshmen lawmakers: to limit the number of bills they propose, and to be role models of decorum.

Almost 6,000 bills were proposed in the previous Knesset, he said, but only 4% of them were approved, he told them.

“Think how much gas is [wasted] in neutral, how much money is spent on the gimmick of every MK who says he has put 300 bills on the Knesset table. Let’s start with some internal censorship,” he said.

Instead, he asked that the members concentrate on a different role. “When we keep tabs on the government, we are serving the best interests of the citizens of Israel.”

He also expressed the hope that all the parliamentarians would behave in a more statesmanlike manner during Knesset sessions, a request he has made several times in the past.