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The knesset lesson Plan Pre reading

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Lesson Plan

Pre reading

1. Present pictures of Knesset building, Chaim Weitzman, Ben Gurion

and elicit the names from students.

2. Who was the President of Israel who opened the first sitting of the


3. Why was the name Knesset given to the Israel Parliament?

4. Why are there 120 Knesset Members?

1. While reading find the following

  • When was the first sitting of the Knesset?

  • Has the Knesset always been in Jerusalem?

  • Who was responsible for moving the Knesset from Tel Aviv

to Jerusalem?

  • Who donated money for the building of the permanent

Knesset building?


The Knesset History - Introduction

The Knesset is the house of representatives of the State of Israel. It is uni-cameral and has 120 Members representing numerous lists that are elected in general, country-wide, proportional elections once every four years

The name "Knesset" derives from the "Great Knesset" ("Great Assembly") which convened in Jerusalem after the return of the Jews to Eretz Yisrael from the Babylonian exile in the fifth century B.C.E. The number of Knesset Members was also determined on the basis of the number of members of the Great Knesset. The traditions of the Knesset and the way it functions were influenced by the Zionist Congress, which first convened in Basel in 1897, by the experience of the Assembly of Representatives (Assefat Hanivharim) of the Jewish community in mandatory Palestine and, to a certain extent, by the procedures and customs of the British Parliament - the "mother of parliaments."

On 18 April 1948, towards the proclamation of the state, the People's Council (Moetzet Ha'am) was established. This was turned on May 14 into the Provisional State Council, which functioned as the legislature of the new state until the elections for the Constituent Assembly (Ha'assefa Hamechonent).

Until the end of 1949 the meetings of the Provisional State Council (Moetzet Hamedina Hazmanit) were held at the Tel Aviv Museum, the "Kessem" cinema, and the "San-Remo" hotel. On 26 December 1949, the Knesset moved to its temporary residence in "Beit Frumin" on King George Street in Jerusalem, and on 31 August, 1966 - to its permanent residence at Kiryat Ben Gurion.

Permanent Knesset Committees

The permanent committees and their chairmen are elected at the beginning of the term of each Knesset, on the basis of a recommendation by the Arrangements Committee. Membership in the committees is on a Parliamentary Group basis. On the days of the Knesset sittings, the committees meet in the Knesset building. On other days they may meet in the Knesset building or elsewhere. The committees occasionally go out on tours in order to study matters that are on their agendas. The committees deal with bills after they have passed preliminary and first reading in the case of private Members' bills, or first reading in the case of government bills, and prepare them for the next stages of legislation. Occasionally a bill may return to the committee after second reading if reservations have been accepted in its course. The committees may also themselves initiate legislation.

In addition, the committees deal with motions for the agenda that have been passed on to them; with regulations that require their approval; with requests by citizens addressed to the Knesset or the government; and with any matter which the Knesset may decide to pass on to them for their treatment. The committees frequently initiate discussions on a particular matter.

The committees have a permanent administrative team at their disposal, as well as legal and economic advisors supplied by the Knesset. The committees may summon to their meetings ministers, civil servants, external experts, and persons or bodies connected to the issue being discussed. The committees may set up sub-committees for particular matters, and the Knesset plenum or House Committee may decide to set up joint committees made up of an equal number of members from two committees and having the status of a committee for a particular matter. In the past, there were several joint committees consisting of members from more than two permanent committees. Committee meetings are not public, unless the committee decides otherwise.

Permanent Committees:

House Committee

Finance Committee

Economic Affairs Committee

Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee

Internal Affairs and Environment Committee

Constitution, Law and Justice Committee

Committee for Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs

Education, Culture, and Sports Committee

Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee

State Control Committee

Committee on the Status of Women

Science and Technology Committee

Questions for Discussion

1. Does the Israeli society have faith in the Knesset and its members?


2. The Constitution, Law and Justice Committee initiates discussions and

laws on different matters.

An example of a social problem that has to be dealt with through

legislation is crime against elderly people.

Violence against the elderly has become a country wide problem according to the police. It seems that the light punishment of criminals convicted of violence against old people is not a sufficient deterrent.

Following are examples of brutal assaults of elderly people in Israel.

…In September 2005, two men knocked Pesia to the ground after following her home with the intention of snatching her bag. The fall caused Pesia to lapse into a coma, from which she would never emerge. She died several weeks after the incident. The defendants made away with less than NIS 50.

The two men employed similar tactics against the 86-year-old woman, whom they robbed shortly before causing Pesia's death.
Molotkov snatched her purse while she was sitting on a public bench in a Haifa street, while Bieniv was acting as a lookout, alerting Molotkov to passersby who might notice the robbery

An elderly couple was savagely beaten Monday and held captive in their basement for two hours by burglars who broke into their house in the village of Beit Meir in the center of the country. The four masked men entered the house of Yitzhak and Miriam Boker overnight.

"I woke up to see what all the screaming was about when three men, all with masks on their faces, jumped me," Yitzhak Boker said. "They wanted to drag me to the basement but I wanted to go upstairs to see what they were doing to my wife."

Boker said his assailants spoke Arabic and that one of them threatened to hit him on the head with a crowbar. After a struggle, Boker's assailants overcame his resistance and dragged him to the basement. "They even told me which [criminal] organization they belong to," he added. "But I was so distressed that I forgot."

When they got to the basement, they tied Boker's hands and legs. "I could not move right or left. After a while they brought down my wife and stationed a guard to watch us."
Meanwhile, the other three robbers began rummaging through the couple's things upstairs in search of valuables or a safe.
Boker asked his assailants for a pair of pants because of the bitter cold.
"They brought me a pair but I could not put them on because I was tied," he said. "They did not notice that there was a knife in one of the pockets with which my wife later cut the ropes."

The Legislation, Law and Justice Committee is now within the process of legislating a law concerning the punishment for violence against elderly people.


  • Search the Knesset Internet Site and look for the details of the above mentioned law.
    Summarize the suggested law and present it in class.

  • What other social issues should be solved through legislation?

Bring 2 – 3 examples.

Lesson Plan written by Ahuva Dotan, Lady Davis, Tel Aviv, based on a lesson plan by Rachel Rakovsky, Blich, Ramat Gan.
Information based on the Knesset Internet Site:

Happy 59th Birthday to the Knesset!

On the 14th of February, 1949 (Tu Bishvat 5709), the Constituent Assembly, which within two days became the first Knesset, held its first meeting in the Jewish Agency building in Jerusalem.

"It is with a sense of honor and awe that I rise to open the Constituent Assembly of the State of Israel, the first Jewish assembly of our day, in Jerusalem, the eternal city. At this great moment in the history of our people, we give thanks and praise to the God of Israel by whose grace we have been privileged to see redemption, after generations of suffering and misery... Knesset members! I congratulate you on your first meeting. Remember that the eyes of the whole Jewish world are upon you, and that the yearning and prayers of past generations accompany you. May we all be worthy of this great moment and this immense responsibility..."

(Translation from Lorch, N., Major Knesset Debates)

Because that first convention of the Constituent Assembly occurred on Tu Bishvat, the Knesset celebrates its "birthday" on that day each year. The event is highlighted by the Knesset Members planting trees. This year, Tu Bishvat falls on Tuesday, January 22nd, and on that day, the Knesset will also have its birthday celebration.

Knesset Locations

  • February 14, 1949: The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly in Jewish Agency building, Jerusalem.

  • March 8, 1949-December 14, 1949: The Knesset held its sittings in the Kessem Cinema in Tel Aviv.

December, 1949, David Ben Gurion, the Prime Minister made an announcement in the Knesset regarding Jerusalem and the holy places, in reaction to the UN proposal that the city be internationalized. Ben Gurion declared, that "Jewish Jerusalem is an integral and inseparable part of the State of Israel, just as it is an inseparable part of the history of Israel, the faith of Israel and the spirit of our people."

  • December 26, 1949-March 8, 1950: The Knesset returned to Jerusalem and convened in the Jewish Agency building.

  • March 13, 1950: The Knesset moved to its temporary location ("Froumine Building" on King George Street in Jerusalem) until the completion of the permanent location.

  • 1957: Lord James De Rothschild sent a letter to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion regarding his decision to donate money for the building of the permanent Knesset location.

  • October 14, 1958: The laying of the cornerstone of the new Knesset building.

  • August 31, 1966: The new Knesset building was dedicated during the governing of the sixth Knesset.

  • 1981: It was decided to build a new wing in the Knesset building. The wing was built and then opened in 1992.

  • 2006: Construction is still under way for the newest wing of the Knesset. This new wing was partially opened in the summer of 2005.

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