Israel's parliament, the Knesset, is preparing for the start of a new session Tuesday with 49 new members. Orientation was held for the new members Monday and included a tour of the premises and an explanation of how the wheels of government turn.
Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, senior members of the main opposition Blue and White Party, were not present at Monday's orientation. Labor Chairman Avi Gabbay, who was a minister but never a MK, was also absent.
Regarding Gantz's absence, his fellow party member Yoaz Hendel said: "I don’t know why they are not present, but from what I understand heads of parties generally do not attend such events. I am sure that we will do our parliamentary work in the best possible manner. I see myself as a servant of the public."
The Knesset chamber also received a facelift: a new blue carpet was installed, the walls painted, accessibility measures for the disabled were added and Israeli flags were hung behind the Speaker's chair.
"It is exciting and joyful to be here," said new Likud MK Keren Barak. "I hope to be placed in a senior committee position. I am concerned with the rift that was formed among the nation during the election season and I hope that the campaign battles are over and are left behind. The opposition must internalize that Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister and I hope that we can cooperate in order to attain good results."
Eli Avidar of Yisrael Beytenu said: "I am excited to be here. 52 years ago, I left Egypt as a refugee in my mother's arms and I am excited to come full circle and be sworn in as an MK." He added that his party does not fear being in the opposition if coalition negotiations go sour.
Remember why you're here
Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein told the fresh MKs to "censor themselves with regards to legislation and focus on keeping tabs on the government. Only 4% of proposed bills make it to the lawbooks. It is an unnecessary gimmick that wastes public funds. When we keep tabs on the government, we are serving the best interests of the citizens of Israel."
Edelstein reminded them to remember why they were elected to office and that "money and public service can also be accomplished outside of government… When you know the goal, the rest will fall into place."