The 26 MKs in the opposition intensified their internal fighting on Monday over the vacant chairmanship of the Knesset State Control Committee.

The committee, which works in tandem with the state comptroller, must be chaired by an opposition MK. Kadima MK Ronnie Bar-On was forced to relinquish the committee chairmanship when his party joined Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

National Union MK Uri Ariel immediately claimed control over the committee, because when Kadima joined the coalition, he was the only remaining opposition MK on the committee.

The committee must be led by an MK who was on the committee.

But new opposition leader Shelly Yacimovich wants the committee to be led by an MK from her faction, specifically her chief rival, MK Amir Peretz. The Arab parties also want the committee led by Peretz and not by the rightist Ariel.

Opposition MKs said giving Ariel the chairmanship and replacing outspoken State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss with the relatively quiet new comptroller Joseph Shapira would effectively neutralize a key institution for government oversight.

“Uri Ariel would be a puppet of the government,” Peretz said. “Netanyahu is doing everything possible to block opposition. The government should not be immune to criticism.”

Ariel’s spokesman countered that giving the chairmanship to an MK who has not been on the committee would be wrong. He said he expected Ariel to be voted into the job in the next week by the MKs on the committee with help from coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin, who strongly supports giving Ariel chairmanship of the committee.

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