Two weeks after the end of a stormy election season, the Knesset convened Tuesday for a festive swearing-in ceremony, during which the lawmakers of the 20th Knesset were to declare their allegiance to the Israeli parliament and its laws.
Netanyahu welcomed the new lawmakers, saying, "We should all be proud of our unique achievement; we have preserved our precious democracy.
"This is a great achievement," he added, particularly given the fact that there is "turmoil everywhere we look."
The prime minister wished the new MKs the best of luck, adding, "Nothing is as great and meaningful as serving the public and the country. My door is open and will continue to be open to all representatives of the selected parties; this is an invitation."
"I intend to form a government that will work for all citizens of Israel without exception. Our first mission is to mend the rifts – this is a mission that unites us all. I want to emphasize again, I am committed to lowering the cost of living with an emphasis on reducing housing prices."
Netanyahu also addressed the issue of the framework Iranian nuclear agreement being sought by international negotiators, warning that it will "pave the way" to a nuclear-armed Tehran.
"It appears the deal being formed in Lausanne will leave Iran with underground facilities, the nuclear reactor in Arak and with advanced centrifuges," Netanyahu said at the parliamentary ceremony.
"In our estimation, (the time to creation of a nuclear weapon) will be reduced to under a year and perhaps far less than that," he said.
"The greatest threat to our security and our future was and remains Iran's attempt to be armed with nuclear weapons," he said in a speech to parliament.
"We will do everything to protect our security and our future," Netanyahu said.
"Friends, we stand on the eve of the festival of Passover, the festival of liberation. The essence of this holiday is defined by three things; Pesach (the Passover offering made in Temple times), Matzah (unleavened bread), and Maror (the bitter herbs eaten as part of the Seder.) Similarly, this house also stands upon three things: being servants of the public, representing the changing face of Israel, and responsibility to make decisions,: Rivlin added.
The president asked the MKs to leave behind the squabbles that accompanied the election campaigns and focus on their public service. "The time has come to return focus to the main actors, the citizens of the State of Israel."
Zionist Union MK Itzik Shmuly said his party was headed for the opposition. "According to what I see and hear from Herzog, and I spoke to him personally today, he's heading for the opposition," Shmuly said. "I'm guessing an offer from Netanyahu will come in the coming weeks and he will try to reel us in. Netanyahu is already feeling the international pressure that won't allow a narrow right-wing government to operate for long. We need to be strong enough to resist the temptation."
Meanwhile, new Yesh Atid MK Haim Yellin, the former head of the Eshkol Regional Council, arrived at the Knesset for his first day with a the remains of a Gaza rocket fired at southern Israel.
"I brought a rocket with me for my office so I'll remember where I came from and who I'm representing," Yellin said.
Likud MK Gila Gamliel told Ynet that she was ready to be appointed minister. "I'm the more veteran female MK, I'm ready and my turn has come," she said.
After the less formal gathering, all 120 lawmakers were then to head over to the Knesset for the first official session of parliament, in the presence of President Reuven Rivlin and the outgoing speaker of the 19th Knesset, Likud MK Yuli Edelstein.
The Knesset elder, Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz, will oversee the plenum session as acting Knesset speaker. During the session, MKs will be officially notified that Benjamin Netanyahu has been tasked with forming the next government.
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MKs will then select a permanent speaker for the 20th Knesset, after which a government announcement will be issued stating the prime minister will appoint all the ministers and deputy ministers of the 34th Israeli government.
A seminar for new MKsThe 120 Knesset members include 39 just embarking on their legislative careers, who were earlier this week treated to a special seminar on the inner workings of parliament.
The 19th Knesset had 49 new members and a record number of women – 27 in total. That record was broken on March 17, when voters gave 28 women seats in the Knesset. At the seminar earlier this week, Knesset Secretary-General Yardena Meller-Horowitz (the first woman to hold the post) provided the new Knesset members with a comprehensive explanation of how the parliament and its plethora of departments work.
Sports broadcaster and journalist Zuhair Bahalul (Zionist Union) was among the 39 new MKs at the seminar.
"You could say we got similar support when we entered the first grade - it involved a lot of curiosity and a lot of questions," he said.
Bahalul said that he and his new colleagues had learned a thing or two about the workings of the Knesset, "for example, the process of law before its passage (and) the legal pitfalls. These are things that we knew in theory, but were not familiar with the exact process."
The freshman legislators also learned about the work of the Knesset committees, legislative and legal consultation, the Knesset Research Center, and the issues of security at the Knesset compound.
"I'm a little jealous of you, a good jealousy of course", said outgoing Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. "There is nothing quite like the feeling when you make the declaration of allegiance for the first time. In this building, one can also be an idler, but not many of them are re-elected. It all depends on the public responsibility and personal motivation of each and every one of you."
The party with the highest number of new MKs is, unsurprisingly, the new Kulanu faction, whose MKs, aside chairman Moshe Kahlon, are all swearing allegiance for the first time.
The Likud faction will also present 11 new MKs, including Dr. Anat Berko, who said of the seminar: "I felt kind of like I did when I enlisted at the age of 18. It was the (Knesset equivalent of) a recruitment center. We were welcomed very nicely, and I am sure I will learn a lot as we go along. They gave us the feeling that we can ask anything and that we are not supposed to know it all on day one."
Reuters and AFP contributed to this report.