JERUSALEM (Feb. 14)
The Knesset celebrated its 41st birthday Wednesday with ceremonial tree-plantings at three different locations. The ceremony reflected deep ideological differences not present when Israel’s first parliament convened in 1949.
Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky of Likud had called for one ceremony on Mount Scopus, but left-wing and right-wing Knesset members balked for their own diverse reasons.
Two ceremonies were then scheduled, the main one on Mount Scopus and another near Ir Ganim in southern Jerusalem, considered “neutral” ground. Mount Scopus was outside of Israel’s borders until Jerusalem’s unification in 1967.
The Ir Ganim ceremony was organized by members of the Labor Party, the leftist Mapam and other dovish parties, and the Peace Now movement.
A third, much smaller ceremony was held at Ma’aleh Adumim, a town in the West Bank.
Only six Knesset members attended, representing Likud, the extreme right-wing Moledet party and the ultra-Orthodox Agudat Yisrael. They were joined by members of the Labor Party’s right-wing Ben-Gurion group.