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MK gives birth to baby girl conceived with gay friend

In Knesset first, lawmaker Merav Ben Ari opts for shared parenting without marriage

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Member of Knesset Merav Ben Ari attends a committee meeting in the Knesset, February 6, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Member of Knesset Merav Ben Ari attends a committee meeting in the Knesset, February 6, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A lawmaker who conceived a child with a gay friend to whom she isn’t married gave birth Saturday to a baby girl, the first time that a Knesset member has pursued shared parenting out of wedlock.

Kulanu party MK Merav Ben Ari, 41, posted a photograph of her newborn daughter to her Twitter account along with a description of her emotions in becoming a mother for the first time.

“Thank you very much to all those who wished me well,” she wrote. “As much as I prepared I did not understand at all until it happened to me. She was well synced with the [Knesset] plenum and on Saturday morning she entered my world, I was moved.”

The Knesset went on break on Thursday.

Congratulations quickly came in from other MKs.

Likud MK Yehudah Glick responded to the tweet by writing “Mazel tov to wonderful Merav on the birth of her charming daughter.”

Fellow Likud MK David Amsalem tweeted “Congratulations Merav. May you raise her with great joy and happiness.”

Ben Ari, who was elected to the Knesset in 2015, announced her pregnancy last October, revealing that the father was a gay acquaintance she identified only as “Ofir.”

In an extensive interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper ahead of the Jewish New Year, she explained at the time she was aware that as a single woman, rumors would quickly spread about her personal life.

“I don’t want to set off a rumor mill, with people wondering how a single woman at the Knesset is suddenly pregnant. So I’m saying it outright: I’m pregnant and everything’s alright,” Ben Ari said. “I’m not the first MK to get pregnant, but I am the first single MK to get pregnant by a gay friend without getting married.”

She said she brought up the idea with a close friend, Ofir, “a wise gay man with a great deal of spirit.”

“I told him, ‘Let’s have a kid and raise him,’ and Ofir said yes,” she said.

Ben Ari first entered the public spotlight in 2005 as the winner of the reality show “Needed: A leader.” With the NIS 5 million ($1.38 million) in prize money, she helped to set up a chain of at-risk youth centers in Netanya and Herzliya, which she ran before being elected to the Tel Aviv city council in 2013. In 2015, she joined the centrist Kulanu party and was elected to the Knesset.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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