Knesset Speaker: "Israel Needs a Separation of Powers"
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud Beyteinu) has just completed 100 days in his new position. Edelstein shared his thoughts on his new role, and other issues, in an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva.
It’s been 100 days, how do you see the job as Knesset Speaker?
“It’s a fascinating position that I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s a position that includes many roles within it… I enjoy looking out for everyone, although sometimes I need to silence someone. But the ultimate purpose is for everyone to be able to express themselves.
“Of course sometimes I do not agree with various speeches, but I listen without compromising my personal views.”
How is your relationship with former Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin?
“Rivlin is a friend. The media made it seem as if I took his spot, but that’s not true.”
Edelstein also discussed his feelings about the position after having been a “prisoner of Zion,” sentenced to time in a Soviet jail for Zionist activity:
“If 30 years ago someone had told me that I would be the Knesset Speaker of the State of Israel, I wouldn’t have believed it. There’s a symbolism to it, that a prisoner of Zion reaches the position of Knesset speaker and speaks in the name of the people.”
Some citizens of Israel don’t see the Knesset as the house of the people, and some even mock it.
“We must not lose hope. It’s true that there are MKs who act like clowns, who do damage and tarnish the Knesset’s reputation, but I think that slowly, slowly the Knesset is regaining its dignity. Today there is more gravity, and a debate in the Knesset hall is more dignified.”
Do you think that’s true of the Arab MKs, too?
“The Arab MKs are nobody’s fool. I’m very disappointed with their behavior regarding the Bedouin law. That’s not how to protest in Parliament. I’m still waiting to hear from the Ethics Committee regarding their behavior that evening.”
How can the Knesset’s status be maintained when the judicial branch gives itself the authority to cancel Knesset legislation?
“I’ll say it unequivocally: the courts do not give the Knesset enough respect. Unfortunately, there is blatant interference in Knesset proceedings. We must create a separation of powers.”
“As long as there are MKs who take things to the Supreme Court it will be very difficult. I think that the ideal justices would say that it isn’t in their jurisprudence. MKs need to engage in politics, not go to the Supreme Court.”
What do you think about the Members of Knesset who share messages on Facebook instead of in Knesset?
“It’s globalization. Am I going to stop Members of Knesset from using Facebook? That would be absurd. On the other hand, Members of Knesset need to realize that when they write on Facebook or upload photos to social sites, they need to remember that they are the nation’s representatives… Also, a tweet on Twitter or status on Facebook does not absolve them of the need to do work in Knesset and to make their statements in Knesset.”
More than 50 Members of Knesset were switched in the last elections. What do you say about the new Members of Knesset?
“They’re good people. Many made innocent mistakes. There are some Members of Knesset who did not fully understand that their status had changed… Most of the new MKs came to do work, they aren’t all excellent parliamentarians, but the new MKs are more present and even learned to advise senior MKs.”
What do you think of holding a national referendum on important topics?
“I would be justified in saying that we don’t need a national referendum, but I don’t just want to be justified - I want to be wise, and to give every citizen the right to vote on his stance on crucial decisions that will affect Israel’s future.”