What were the most talked-about stories in the Knesset this year? And why will next year probably be a boring one for the prime minister?
David Bitan’s foot-in-mouth syndrome
David Bitan (Likud) became coalition chairman in May, and it didn’t take long for him to start stirring up controversy.
In addition to whipping up votes, coalition chairmen are often viewed as the prime minister’s mouthpiece, but after this one turned out to have a foot in it, people are wondering how true that is this time.
Some of Bitan’s gems, many of which were uttered at Shabbat Tarbut Saturday cultural events, include saying that former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination was not a political murder, that the press is too free, and that he would like it if fewer Israeli Arabs voted.
There was plenty of outrage on the Left, and more forgiving interpretations on the Right – Bitan usually explained himself more clearly after realizing how his statements were understood – but all seemed to agree that eloquence was not Bitan’s strong suit.
Likud backbencher Oren Hazan gets a mention here too, because he continued to appall and to some extent amuse Knesset observers throughout the year with his extremely rude manners. In an interview for The Jerusalem Post in March, he asked readers to help him find a wife. He also gets credit for predicting the victory of Donald Trump, whom Hazan calls a role model.