MKs Avigdor Liberman (Likud Beytenu) and Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) were
elected temporary chairmen of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
and the Knesset Finance Committee, respectively, as Arab and Meretz MKs
protested the choices on Wednesday.
The temporary Knesset House
Committee, led by 18th Knesset coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud Beytenu),
voted in the two chairmen.
Elkin suggested that there be one committee
member for every five MKs, and that small parties not be allowed to join
together in so-called “technical blocs” in order to join committees.
temporary committee has 17 members, five from Likud Beytenu, three from Yesh
Atid, two each from Labor, Bayit Yehudi and Shas. UTJ, The Tzipi Livni Party and
Meretz each have one representative per committee. Parties with four or less
members may only observe committees.
As such, none of the Arab parties
are represented in the temporary Finance and Foreign Affairs and Defense
Traditionally, they do not have members in the latter
committee when it is permanent, either.
“If UAL-Ta’al had five seats,
would you raise the minimum to six MKs?” MK Muhammad Barakei (Hadash)
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) suggested counting the Arab
parties as one united faction for the sake of splitting the committees, but was
Elkin nominated Gafni for temporary Finance Committee
chairman, because he held the role in the previous Knesset, and Liberman to the
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, instead of former Kadima MK Ronnie
Bar-On, who did not run for the 19th Knesset and led the Foreign Affairs and
“How can an MK accused of fraud and breach of trust,
who cannot serve as a minister, be the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee?” Tibi asked.
Elkin responded: “There’s a precedent in
the appointment of MK Tzahi Hanegbi,” who is now in Likud Beytenu, but was in
Kadima when he led the committee.
“Maybe we should make a rule in the
Knesset that only an MK accused of fraud and breach of trust can be Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee chairman,” Tibi quipped.
Zehava Gal-On brought up the same issue when the temporary Foreign Affairs and
Defense Committee confirmed Liberman’s nomination.
Gal-On demanded that
Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon give an opinion as to whether Liberman could be
chairman because of his impending corruption trial.
The Meretz leader
pointed out that part of the committee’s job is to supervise the Foreign
Ministry, and said that Liberman could “terrorize the ministry’s workers, even
if it’s legal.”
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Legal Adviser Miri
Frankel-Schorr told Gal-On there is no problem with Liberman becoming
Upon his confirmation, Liberman said, “the State of Israel
faces significant security challenges. You don’t need to be a great strategist
to know what is happening in our region, and we cannot allow political or
coalition matters to prevent this committee from working.”