The Knesset has opened, for the first time, a spoken Arabic course for lawmakers from all the factions. The course, an initiative of Knesset Director-General Ronen Plot and a group of MKs, was approved by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud). MKs Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi and Basel Ghattas of the Joint Arab List also welcomed the initiative and even contributed a few useful political terms to the course.
”This is an essential and significant requirement of elected officials – to have a good command of the second official language in the country, just as Arab MKs learn Hebrew,” Plot said during the inaugural lesson. ”We are launching the project as a pilot, and additional MKs have already asked to join the course. The Knesset will be glad to expand this activity in accordance with the lawmakers’ needs.”
Among the participants in the course are MKs Nurit Koren, Yifat Shasha-Biton, Sharren Haskel (Likud), Tzipi Livni, Amir Peretz, Nachman Shai, Yael Cohen Paran, Manuel Trajtenberg, Stav Shafir, Itzik Shmuli, Yehiel Hilik Bar (Zionist Camp), Elie Elalouf, Merav Ben Ari, Michael Oren, Roy Folkman (Kulanu ), Ofer Shelah, Aliza Lavie, Mickey Levy, Yael German, Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid), Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi), Meshulam Nahari, Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas), Israel Eichler (United Torah Judaism), Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu) andTamar Zandberg (Meretz).
The course, the first of its kind since the peace treaty with Jordan 20 years ago, is led by the Knesset’s Training and Continuing Education Department, the Human Resources Department and the instructor, Muhammad Awida of the Berlitz language education company, who holds a BA in Arabic Literature from the Hebrew University. The course will include 10 meetings, two academic hours each.