Daniel Ben-Simon 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
MK Daniel Ben-Simon lashed out at the Likud and his own Labor Party on Monday, following a decision to temporarily appoint Likud MK Danny Danon to head the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee.
Ben-Simon was due to receive the post on Wednesday, according to the coalition agreement that granted Labor the committee chairmanship for the second third of the Knesset’s term.
But coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin refused to give Ben- Simon the job unless he signed a loyalty oath to the government’s policies, which he has regularly rebelled against.
“This is scandalous political thievery, and we won’t let them get away with it,” Ben-Simon said.
But Ben-Simon saved his fiercest criticism for his own party colleagues. He blamed Labor chairman Ehud Barak and faction chairman Shalom Simhon for not pushing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to instruct Elkin to abide by the coalition agreement.
“I expected the heads of the party to fight against the Soviet-style
dictates of the coalition chairman requiring me to sign a loyalty oath,”
Ben-Simon said in a press release. “But instead they acted like people
who have lost the remnant of their self-respect, and allowed this farce
to continue. The faction has stopped fighting on any issue – not
diplomatic, not socioeconomic, and not for its members.”
Ben-Simon went even further in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, saying that Labor MKs had proven that they were “dishrags.”
is acting like a party at death’s door,” he said. “If we can’t even
fight for what we have coming to us, it is no wonder the party looks
this bad to the public.”
A fight broke out in Labor’s faction
meeting between Simhon and MK Amir Peretz, who said the party should
have done more for Ben- Simon. A source close to Barak said he
understood why Ben-Simon would not be given the post after his
flip-flops on key issues.
Danon said he was excited about
receiving the committee chairmanship. He joked to Netanyahu in the Likud
faction meeting that once he “occupied the territory” of the committee,
he did not intend to concede it.
Elkin said it was reasonable to ask that committee chairmen support the government.
He said Barak did the same when he was looking for a chairman for the Knesset foreign affairs and defense committee.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin defended Ben- Simon and said MKs’ freedom
of conscience trumped coalition discipline. In a further dispute
between Rivlin and Netanyahu, the Knesset speaker said the post should
be given to Ben-Simon immediately.
At Netanyahu’s request, the
Likud faction decided to delay for 45 days the transfer of the Knesset
Economics Committee chairmanship from his ally, Likud MK Ophir Akunis,
to Likud MK Carmel Shama. Netanyahu tried unsuccessfully to persuade
Shama to become a deputy minister in order to keep Akunis at the helm of
the committee, which deals with reforms that are close to Netanyahu’s
The Knesset Education Committee will now be headed by
Israel Beiteinu MK Alex Miller, who at 33 is the youngest head of the