Labor takes PM, Edelstein to court over lack of defense panel chairman

Netanyahu and Edelstein "unable to reach agreement about appointing a permanent chairman."

February 26, 2014 16:04
1 minute read.
High Court of Justice panel

High Court of Justice panel 370. (photo credit: Yonah Jeremy Bob)

Labor petitioned the High Court of Justice Wednesday to force the coalition to select a chairman for the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog and MKs Eitan Cabel and Nachman Shai, all from the Labor Party, submitted the petition, which calls to stop “significant harm to the fabric of democratic life and relations between the legislative and executive branches of government.”

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There has not been a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman since Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman left the post in November.

The petition against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein says the two are “unable to reach an agreement about appointing a permanent chairman for the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee due to political coalition issues...They are blatantly ignoring the disproportionate harm to the Knesset's sovereignty and its job to supervise the diplomatic and security policies of the defense establishment.”

Sunday was supposed to mark the end of Edelstein’s chairmanship of the committee, in which he appointed different MKs to lead each meeting. The Knesset House Committee extended his term until the end of the Knesset’s Passover recess in May because of disagreements in the coalition.

According to Labor’s petition, if the court does not get involved, it could lead to a “slippery slope violating the principle of separation of powers, one of the cornerstones of the Israeli government system.”

Earlier this year, Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid agreed on a rotation for committee chairmanship between Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi and Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah, but not on who would serve first.

On Tuesday, Shelah’s spokeswoman denied that Yesh Atid agreed to put its faction chairman second in exchange for Likud support for criminal sanctions against haredim who fail to enlist in the IDF.

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