Latest Knesset launches with right-wing majority

Latest Knesset launches with right-wing majority
Analysis: The new Israeli government is expected to be more hard-line than ever.
3 min read
31 March, 2015
Netanyahu's right wing Likud party won a landslide victory in recent elections [Anadolu]

As the 20th Israeli parliament, known as the Knesset, opened its doors yesterday, 39 new members joined 81 veterans to swear their oaths of allegiance.

The session was celebratory in tone, and was attended by Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and Asher Dan Grunis, president of Israel's Supreme Court, as well as representatives from diplomatic missions in Israel.

"I urge all sides involved, to strive to conclude the coalition negotiations as soon as possible," said Rivlin.

"The public infrastructure is suffering from paralysis for several long months, and we must allow it to return to full functionality. Each day that passes exacts a higher price upon the Israeli people."

MKs elected Likud's Yuli Edelstein to continue his role as speaker for the 20th Knesset.

The right-wing Likud party scored a healthy majority in the recent elections, with 67 Knesset members under Binyamin Netanyahu.

Lawmakers from the Yesh Atid Party headed by Yair Lapid, and six parliamentarians from the Zionist Union are also thought to support Netanyahu's bid to form a government.

The new Knesset is expected to be more hard-line than ever before -
all the more likely if Yisrael Beiteinu, led by Avigdor Lieberman, and the Jewish Home Party, led by Naftali Bennett, remain outside the cabinet's lineup and form a right-wing opposition bloc.

Racist legislation?

     The public infrastructure is suffering from paralysis
- Reuven Rivlin, president of Israel

Regardless of the final cabinet lineup, the Knesset has actively proposed discriminating and racist legislation against Palestinians living in Israel and the occupied territories.

After elections, Israeli newspapers said Netanyahu and Lieberman had been struggling to revive the "Jewish nation-state" bill, which describes the land of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

It also stipulates that the state of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, where Jews can fulfil their right to self-determination, according to their cultural and historic heritage.

The bill gives Palestinians citizens only individual civil rights, requiring non-Jewish citizens to swear an oath of allegiance to Israel as a "Jewish and democratic state".

Non-Jews seeking to become Israeli citizens will be require to make this loyalty oath, which will mainly affect Palestinians from the West Bank who marry Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Meanwhile, the Likud and Labor parties are expected to push a law removing Arabic as an official language in Israel.

The anticipated legislation is expected to target Israel's Supreme Court and the Israeli judiciary. Some Likud members, including Knesset lawmaker Yaron Yariv, have revealed his party wants to enact a law to limit the prerogatives of the Supreme Court, especially its ability to annul laws it considers racist or a violation of human rights.

With the electoral threshold raised to 3.25 percent, the three Arab blocs in the Knesset have been compelled to form an electoral alliance, named the "Joint List".

It was not named the Unified Arab List, as it includes the Democratic Front, a party pitching itself as an Arab-Jewish party. The Joint List won 13 seats and came third after Likud and Labor.

Although the Arab parties won two seats more than their 19th Knesset total,, their ability to influence Israeli politics remains slim.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.