Two retired generals, two former models, a sheik, a homosexual, a young Arab woman, and a former member of a Jewish terrorist organization are among the 31 new faces that will be sworn into Israel's 18th parliament today.
"It will be stormier than previous Knessets," said Shahar Ilan, Knesset correspondent for Israel's daily Haaretz. "More young people, less professors and more radical right-wingers means more rough clashes with the Arab MKs [members of the Knesset]"
No government has yet been formed because Likud Party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu has not convinced Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni to join his right-wing coalition. If Ms. Livni sticks to her guns, Israel is headed for a hard right-wing government with a large opposition and a narrow government.
Israeli parliamentary sessions are already infamous for yelling and name-calling, particularly between its right-wing and its Arab members.
It is not uncommon for Knesset members to be escorted out of the plenary hall by guards. And that is more likely in this Knesset, which has a majority of right-wing MKs. One of the most controversial new members is Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union Party. Mr. Ben-Ari, 44, a settler from Karnei Shomron, calls himself "the disciple and successor of Rabbi Meir Kahane," the man who founded the Kach movement, which is labelled a terrorist organization by Israel, Canada, and the United States. Mr. Ben-Ari espouses the transfer of Arabs and the construction of a Jewish holy temple on the grounds of the Temple Mount, Islam's third holiest site. He has chosen as his parliamentary aide Itamar Ben-Gvir, a radical Hebron settler who has been indicted 46 times for attacking Arabs, gays, and police, for incitement to racism, and for support for a terrorist organization.
Then there is Nitzan Horovitz, a 43-year-old journalist and the only openly gay Knesset member. He is likely to face homophobic MKs, such as Eli Yishai, chairman of the Shas party, who recently said that homosexuality is a psychological disorder.
Back on the other side of the political spectrum is Anastasia Michaeli, 33, former Miss St. Petersburg and a pregnant mother of seven children. Ms. Michaeli, moved to Israel from Russia after marrying an Israeli and converting to Judaism. She has expressed support for traditional male-female roles and has said that when her husband travels abroad, she recommends that he have sex with other women. She will be the first MK to give birth while in office. The former model will be taking a seat as a member of ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party, which calls for Israel's Arab citizens to take an oath of loyalty to the Jewish state or have their citizenship revoked.
Hanin Zouebi, the first Arab woman to represent an Arab party in Knesset, will no doubt have much to argue about with her Russian-born female colleague. Ms. Zouebi has dedicated the past eight years of her life to empowering Arab citizens of Israel in her work at the Ilam Center. Now with her move to politics and the Arab Balad party, the Nazareth-born 39-year-old will be pushing for the exact opposite of what Ms. Michaeli and Mr. Ben-Ari want: the preservation of Arab society within Israel and a new Basic Law assuring the Arab minority's equal rights.
All this means there will likely be a lot of hard work for the Knesset's next ethics committee, which is responsible for determining whether to punish MKs for harsh and violent confrontations, which many expect to erupt.