Lawmaker prevented from addressing Knesset while holding her baby daughter

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MK Sharren Haskel of the opposition National Unity party was prevented from addressing the Knesset on Tuesday because she went up to the podium wearing her baby daughter in a sling.

Deputy Knesset Speaker Uriel Buso of the Shas party told her that according to regulations, only members of Knesset are permitted to stand at the podium.

Haskel had intended to present a bill to the plenum. She explained to Buso that she tried to put her daughter in a stroller but the infant cried so she was forced to keep her in the sling.

Buso consulted with the office of Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and the Knesset’s legal advisers, who confirmed to him that only MKs have access to the podium.

Buso apologetically explained the situation to Haskel, telling her that he was bound to follow regulations. Haskel pushed back, telling him, “You cannot prevent a member of the Knesset from presenting a law.”

“Ultimately, children are part of us. It can’t be helped, there are also mothers who at the end of the day are both workers and mothers and they should be allowed,” she told Buso.

When Buso wouldn’t back down, Haskel offered to present her bill from a position to the side of the main podium, but legal advisers struck down that possibility too.

Haskel later attacked Ohana, saying in a statement it is “sad that the Knesset Speaker, who has two children at home, chooses to prevent a woman with children from going up to the plenary podium.”

She asserted that there is no regulation preventing a woman from speaking in the plenary with a baby and that it is at the discretion of the speaker, “who made a sad decision today that, truth be told, was humiliating and terrible for me as a mother.”

Haskel stressed that she does not bring her daughter to work “for provocations” or for the sake of popularity on social media, but rather “because I am a mother and I want to combine my motherhood with my career, like every mother in Israel.”

“I insist on walking with pride and without shame, not to hide or be ashamed of my motherhood, but to prove to women everywhere that it is possible and necessary to normalize mothers everywhere, even in the Israeli Knesset,” she said.

Haskel gave birth to twin girls in July 2022, siblings to an older daughter. The lawmaker has in the past brought her babies to the Knesset, notably for the session when the government was sworn in at the end of December. On that occasion, other MKs helped out taking care of the babies during the proceedings.

In February, during an overnight Knesset session, Haskel was filmed mixing formula for one of her girls.

Other lawmakers have in the past brought their infant children with them to parliament. In December 2021, then-Yamina MK Shirly Pinto brought her baby to the Knesset six days after giving birth because the coalition at the time would not have had a majority without her vote.

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