Edelstein: Knesset can’t force PM to appoint a new head of Foreign Affairs and Defense C’tee

November 26, 2013 18:45

Netanyahu hopes to appoint his ally, Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, to the post, while coalition partners prefer Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah.

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Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein.

Yuli Edelstein 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein tried unsuccessfully on Tuesday to deal with the vacancy at the helm of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The committee has been leaderless since former chairman Avigdor Liberman became foreign minister two weeks ago.

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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hopes to appoint his ally, Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi, to the post, but his coalition partners prefer Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah.

Due to the dispute, no committee chairman has been appointed, and the committee has not met.

Responding to a complaint on the matter from his predecessor, Likud MK Reuven Rivlin, Edelstein said his legal advisers had told him he had no authority to convene the committee by himself or to appoint a temporary chairman.

He said he had asked the Prime Minister’s Office to expedite the appointment last week, to no avail.

“I have found ways to make clear that the situation is unacceptable,” Edelstein said.

“There are matters of life and death that must be decided. We will find a way to take action if the matter is not resolved as has been promised to me.”

In a speech at the Knesset, Rivlin said the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee was so important that it meets when the government is not in session. He said the Defense Ministry’s budget must be passed by the end of the year.

“The committee’s role in overseeing the government must not be abandoned because of a political problem,” Rivlin said.

Labor MK Nachman Shai wrote Edelstein that during key developments on security issues and foreign affairs, the committee needed to be meeting.

He called the fact that the committee could not convene “a debacle that prevents the Knesset from doing its job.”

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