Knesset speaker to appoint chair of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Edelstein is thought to prefer MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) for the job, as he is the Knesset's veteran member.

December 12, 2013 13:18
1 minute read.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein addresses crowd  at  ceremony honoring the country's fallen soldiers.

Yuli Edelstein370 . (photo credit: Knesset Spokesman’s Office)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein is expected to choose a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman on Monday, after nearly six weeks in which the Knesset’s most prestigious panel lacked leadership.

“My criteria are clear. I want someone with parliamentary experience, who’s a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and who has a broad consensus of faction leaders behind him,” Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post this week.

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Edelstein is thought to prefer MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) for the job, as he is the Knesset’s veteran member, is already on the committee and is in the coalition.

Other sources mentioned MK Binyamin Ben- Eliezer (Labor) as an option. The Knesset speaker, however, refused to discuss names openly, though he spoke to faction leaders about the options this week.

On Monday, Edelstein is likely to bring a candidate to the Knesset House Committee for approval, two weeks after he gave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu an ultimatum: Choose a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman, or I’ll do it myself.

The committee is still missing a chairman, after Avigdor Liberman left the role last month to return as foreign minister, as Netanyahu has yet to appoint one and has been unable to hold general meetings ever since.

Because the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee deals with sensitive and classified materials, the law forbids the Knesset from appointing a chairman that would serve less than three months.

Netanyahu prefers to see Knesset House Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud Beytenu) in the position, but Finance Minister Yair Lapid insists the job should go to Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah.

Lapid and Netanyahu agreed to a rotation between Hanegbi and Shelah, but they are at an impasse as to who would be first, since whoever is second may never actually get the job if there is an early election.

Earlier this week, coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) said Lapid is “doing something that has never been done, trying to force a chairman on the prime minister. Even when Kadima led the committee, the Likud chose which MK it would be.”

“If there’s no choice then Edelstein’s intervention is the right thing to do,” Levin said.

“The temporary chairman will be the most permanent in the world.”

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