JERUSALEM, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Israeli President Shimon Peres ceremonially opened the 18th Israeli Knesset Tuesday by urging its members to reach a Palestinian peace accord, observers said.
Presiding over the swearing-in ceremony in Jerusalem, Peres said, "The newly elected Knesset counts 12 parties but that does not mean that we have to be divided along those lines. The demands of the hour must unite us," the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
The ceremony was set to be attended by about 1,000 guests, with each new member of the Knesset given five invitations and veteran members issued two, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Among those expected to be in attendance were Peres, Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch, Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger, Defense Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Israel Police Commissioner Inspector Gen. David Cohen, the newspaper said.
Knesset Member Michael Eitan of the Likud Party, the longest-serving MK, has been appointed acting Knesset speaker, replacing Kadima Party MK Dalia Itzik until a permanent speaker can be elected, officials said.