First-Ever Deaf Knesset Member Sworn In

YERUSHALAYIM -

The Knesset inducted the first deaf person ever to serve in Israel’s parliamentary body.

Yamina’s Shirley Pinto, a well-known advocate for the disabled, took the oath of office in both sign language and spoken Hebrew.

She takes her seat following the resignation of one of her party’s ministers by dint of the “Norwegian Law,” which allows any MK who is appointed to a cabinet post to step down temporarily from the Knesset, thereby permitting the next candidate on the party’s slate to fill the vacancy.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads Yamina, congratulated Pinto:

“One of the most meaningful moments for me — for all of us,” he tweeted after she was sworn in. “Shirley, I am so proud of you.”

Fifteen other new MKs have been or will be sworn in this week under the Norwegian Law following the establishment of the government on Sunday evening. All three of Yisrael Beytenu’s ministers are giving up their Knessets seats, as are three of the four Blue and White ministers. In Yesh Atid, only two ministers will resign from Knesset, the same number as in New Hope. Two ministers in Meretz are resigning and just one of Labor’s three ministers is as well.

In the past, MKs of opposition parties — including Yamina and Yesh Atid — have opposed the Norwegian Law, because it bloats the government payroll. Foreign Minister and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid last week apologized for the size of his government, saying that it was unavoidable in forming a coalition.