As No. 32 on the Likud list of prospective parliamentarians, Amir Ohana, head of the right-wing party’s gay forum, is set to enter the Knesset this week after veteran member of Knesset and Interior Minister Silvan Shalom’s resignation Sunday amid numerous complaints of sexual harassment.
Ohana, a lawyer by training who is also a major in the reserves and a veteran of the Shin Bet domestic security service, will be the first openly gay MK in a right-wing party and only the second in the current Knesset.
“It was expected that I would enter at some point during the current Knesset,” Ohana said to Channel 2 Sunday evening. “At the same time, it unfortunately happened under unhappy circumstances. I will do my best for the State of Israel.”
Living in Tel Aviv with his partner and their four-month-old twins, whom they brought to Israel after a surrogacy process in the US, Ohana has been active in promoting LGBT rights among his party’s representatives.
In the wake of April’s deadly earthquake in Nepal, Ohana helped bring back Israeli same-sex couples who had been stranded in the country while going through their own surrogacy processes. The crisis aroused hopes among some that Israeli lawmakers would examine the possibility of surrogacy reform.
Ohana will most likely be sworn in this week.
Although Likud won 30 seats in the March elections, members further down on the party list have entered the Knesset as others have left. When Danny Danon was named ambassador to the UN in August, No. 31 on the list, Sharren Haskel, took his spot.
Likud MK Oren Hazan is currently suspended temporarily from parliamentary debates over a series of ethics complaints against him, but retains the right to vote.
Should one other Likud MK leave the Knesset, the next in line would be right-wing Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick, who advocates allowing Jewish prayer on the mount. The controversial Glick was critically injured in an assassination attempt by a Palestinian gunman in October 2014 after giving a speech at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem.
Glick’s potential entrance could be contentious amid the ongoing terror wave, during which Palestinians have claimed that Israel is trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, which Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary. For its part, Israel vehemently denies any such plans, stressing that the administrative situation at the holy site has remained the same for decades.
Update: The allegations against Shalom were not substantiated and the investigation was subsequently closed.