Israel’s 24th Knesset sworn in amid uncertain future

President Reuven Rivlin cautioned, “If we are not able to find a new model of partnership … our national resilience will be in real jeopardy.”

By Aryeh Savir, TPS

The elected members of the 24th Knesset were sworn in on Tuesday evening in a celebratory ceremony amid uncertainty about the assembly’s future.

During the ceremony, which was held two weeks after the elections in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin and Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, the 120 elected Members of Knesset pledged each to “bear allegiance to the State of Israel and faithfully to discharge my mandate in the Knesset.”

Members of the Arab–majority Joint List Ayman Odeh, Samy Abu Shahadeh, Ofer Cassif, and Aida Tuma-Slima changed the wording of the pledge and vowed to “end Israel’s apartheid and occupation.” Their pledge is legally questionable and is unbinding.

The ceremony concluded with the singing of the national anthem “Hatikva” and several Arab MKs walked out.

The 24th Knesset, with 17 new members, commences with an unclear future, and as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was tasked earlier in the day by Rivlin to form a government, faces a complex task in garnering the required support of 61 MKs.

In his address to the Knesset, Rivlin cautioned that “if we are not able to find a new model of partnership that allows us to live together here in mutual respect and genuine shared commitment to each other, our national resilience will be in real jeopardy.”

“The moment demands leadership that is faithful to the people and their values, but that also knows how to mark boundaries and show the way. Leadership that is confident in its path, but that sees ideological rivals not as the enemy but as potential partners,” he said.

Speaker of the Knesset Yariv Levin noted in his address that Israel has gone through four rounds of elections within about two years.

“Beyond the damage that this causes to the ongoing functioning of the state in all spheres, it also poses grave danger for loss of public trust in the government systems, and in the democratic system itself,” he warned.

He called upon all MKs to “end the boycotts and personal disqualifications. To set aside personal grudges and form a stable government relying on a solid parliamentary majority.”

Addressing the MKs, Levin asked them to behave in a responsible and dignified manner.

Netanyahu has 28 days to form a new government. If additional time is required, the president is authorized to grant an extension of up to 14 days.

With a deadlock of 60-60, Israel may be facing its fifth round of elections in a bit more than two years and the 24th Knesset will dissolve before it has a chance to act.