Activist Shirley Pinto to become first deaf Knesset member for Yamina

Party member is a longtime campaigner on disability issues, particularly matters relating to hearing-impaired; will enter parliament using ‘Norwegian Law’

New Right heads Naftali Bennett (L) and Ayelet Shaked (R) with Knesset candidate deaf rights activist Shirley Pinto, January 8, 2019. (New Right)
Naftali Bennett (L) and Ayelet Shaked (R) with Knesset candidate and deaf rights activist Shirley Pinto, January 8, 2019. (Courtesy New Right)

Shirley Pinto of the Yamina party is set to become Israel’s first deaf Knesset member, as Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana announced Sunday he will leave parliament under the so-called Norwegian Law.

The law allows any MK who is appointed to a cabinet post to resign temporarily from the Knesset, thereby permitting the next candidate on the party’s list to enter parliament in his or her stead.

As next down on the party’s list, Pinto will enter the Knesset in Kahana’s place.

Pinto is a long-time activist for disability-related issues, particularly those dealing to the hearing-impaired, and serves as Yamina’s representative in the World Zionist Congress.

“I promise to do everything in order to be your faithful messenger,” Pinto tweeted, noting that she will be sworn in as a member of the Knesset within 48 hours.

Kahana’s announcement came shortly after a new government led by Yamina chief Naftali Bennett was confirmed and sworn in by the Knesset.

Other newly installed ministers will also make use of the Norwegian Law.

The number of ministers from each party that can resign is currently limited based on the size of the party, though the government intends to increase the size of that cap.

Critics of the law say it increases government expenditure.

New Hope ministers Ze’ev Elkin and Yoaz Hendel announced they will resign allowing the next two lawmakers on the party list — Eilat Mayor Meir Yitzhak Halevi and former MK Zvi Hauser — to enter the Knesset.

Elkin is construction and housing minister and will also serve as minister for Jerusalem affairs and liaison minister between the Knesset and the government. Hendel is communications minister.

On Saturday, the Meretz party said that chairman Nitzan Horowitz and party No. 2 Tamar Zandberg are set to resign from the Knesset under the Norwegian Law.

Horovitz is the health minister and Zandberg environmental protection minister in the new government.

Replacing them in the Knesset will be Michal Rozin and Gabi Lasky.

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