In a speech at the inaugural session of the 19th Knesset, President Shimon Peres stressed the need for the next government to make social equality a top priority.
"On the eve of the elections you made promises, almost unanimously, that this Knesset will be the most socially-minded Knesset of all time. That you will bridge the gap between those with influence and those being worst affected by the difficulties, equal sharing of the national burden. We cannot accept a reality whereby 900,000 children lack food, and are disadvantaged when it comes to education. The State of Israel is a democracy based on individual freedom and the rule of law. Those who determine the conduct of society, the character and destiny of our democracy are the institutions of the elected representatives.
"Democracy is not only the right to be equal but the equal right to be different. There is no place for discrimination. Not religious discrimination, not ethnic, not national and not gender-based discrimination. Our nation suffered from racism. We will not allow for racism in our country," he said.