Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein is looking for creative solutions – including
amending laws – to solve the problem of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
being without a chairman, the Speaker said Monday.
The committee is still
missing a chairman three weeks after Avigdor Liberman left the role to return as
foreign minister, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has yet to appoint one.
The committee, the most prestigious in the Knesset, deals with sensitive and
classified materials, and as such, the law forbids the Knesset from appointing a
chairman that would serve less than three months.
“This is a political
issue, and I’m trying to be fair to the government and prime minister,”
Edelstein said in the plenum. “I told [Netanyahu] before his trip [to Italy]
that the Knesset cannot continue in the current situation and I am talking to
the relevant people to find a solution to the problem, hopefully a permanent
one.” Edelstein said he is considering amending the law or finding a legal
justification for him to intervene with the support of his deputies.
can’t live with this situation for long, because of day-to-day work and in case
there is an emergency,” he explained.
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, and the two are at a political impasse.
been a loyal soldier of late, defending Netanyahu in interviews on Sunday and
Monday after former prime minister Ehud Olmert criticized him for speaking out
against Geneva deal with Iran, but senior Likud sources say there’s no news on
the chairmanship front.
Still, a senior Yesh Atid source said the party
gave Netanyahu “no choice” and that he will certainly choose Shelah, however she
denied the party threatened to leave the coalition over the matter.
have a majority in the House Committee,” the source said. “Netanyahu is only
delaying the announcement because he doesn’t want to look weak in the
Meanwhile, the full committee has not met in nearly a month,
though its subcommittees are still active.
On Monday, the Knesset
discussed motions to the agenda on the topic by MKs Eitan Cabel (Labor) and
Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz).
“Something has to be done now. If God forbid
there’s a military action that requires the committee to convene, we won’t have
a committee,” said Cabel. “I’m being careful not to intervene in who should be
the next chairman, but we cannot allow this saga to continue.” Cabel called on
Edelstein to make an ultimatum that if the government does not decide within a
week, the Knesset will.
Horowitz also spoke on the issue, making a
reference to the Prime Minister’s Residence’s budgeting thousands of shekels for
scented candles, which was revealed on Sunday.
“No scented candle can
cover the bad smell this government gives off,” he said. “Not appointing a
committee chairman shows this government’s poor management in several fronts,”
Horowitz continued, pointing to the World Powers’ agreements with Iran and
Syria, as well as peace talks with the Palestinians.
government doesn’t want the Foreign Affairs Defense Committee to meet so it
won’t have to answer tough questions, MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu)
“It cannot be that the Knesset doesn’t have a committee supervising
everyday affairs or authorizing the IDF and security budget,” Rivlin added. “We
have to demand that the government find a solution.”