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19th Knesset Record-Breaker for Women, Religious MKs

Israel’s new parliament will see more female Knesset members time around than previously -- another record-breaker for this election.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/24/2013, 10:46 AM

Ayelet Shaked
Ayelet Shaked
Moti Kikayon

Several records were broken in this year's national elections, among them the number of complete newcomers to the Knesset -- 50 -- and the rise in religiously-observant lawmakers, and women.

Among the 53 new lawmakers joining the 19th Knesset this year, nearly a third – 38 -- are observant members, a jump from 28 religious MKs in the prior session.

In addition, 26 women have joined Israel’s new parliament, another record-setting increase from 21 in the 18th Knesset.

Women will now  comprise 23 percent of the 19th Knesset – a statistic that outstrips the United States, where only 18 percent of the nation’s Congress are women, despite the record-setting membership of 98 female lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Veteran MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) is also a religiously observant Jew, and will undoubtedly find herself quite busy in helping to acquaint her peers with the "unspoken codes" she learned in her own first term in office.

It is important to realize, however, that four parties – Likud (without Yisrael Beytenu), Labor, Bayit Yehudi and Meretz actually set quotas and set aside specific slots for female representation on their lists.

Both hareidi-religious Jewish parties – United Torah Judaism and Shas –  did not allow women to run on their lists at all.

There were also no realistic places on the lists for women on the Jewish-Arab Hadash and Israeli Arab UAL-Ta’al lists.

A sampling of the new faces includes::

Ayelet Shaked, (Bayit Yehudi) former bureau manager for then-opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) and chairwoman and founding member of the My Israel Movement together with Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett.

Yael German, former Mayor of Herzliya

Penina Tamnu-Shata, (Yesh Atid), attorney, first female MK of Ethiopian origin

Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid), City Councilmember, Hod HaSharon

Karin Elharar, attorney

Ruth Calderon, Jewish educator

Orit Strook, (Bayit Yehudi), chairwoman, Yesha Human Rights Organization

Michal Rozin, former CEO of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel