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Court to deliberate forcing Knesset to appoint Defense panel leader
By LAHAV HARKOV
24/02/2014
According to the Movement for Quality Government: Knesset is breaking own rules due to narrow political interests.
 
The High Court will decide whether or not to force the coalition to select a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman in 10 days.
 
Justice Noam Solberg responded on Monday to a petition by the Movement for Quality Government asking that the court order the Knesset House Committee, its chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud Beytenu) and the Knesset to respond as to why there has not been a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman since Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman left the post in November.
 
The NGO wrote that the lack of a committee chairman harms the country's security interests and the public's trust in the legislature.
 
According to the Movement for Quality Government, the Knesset is breaking its own rules due to narrow political interests.
 
"The delicate fabric of the separation of powers in the State of Israel has been harmed and can lead to its security to suffer," Movement for Quality Government litigation department manager Nidal Hayk said.
 
Sunday was supposed to mark the end of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein's chairmanship of the committee, in which he appointed different MKs to lead each meeting; however, the Knesset House Committee extended it until the end of the Knesset's Passover recess, in May, because of continued disagreements in the coalition.
 
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid agreed on a rotation between Hanegbi and Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah, but not on who would go first.
 
If a new chairman is not selected by Tuesday, Labor plans to take Netanyahu to court over the matter.
 
On Sunday, lawyers representing Labor MKs Isaac Herzog, Eitan Cabel, and Nachman Shai sent a letter Sunday to Netanyahu, Lapid,  Edelstein, and Knesset Hanegbi warning of a lawsuit if the position is not filled.
 
“If you refrain from appointing a permanent chairman for the committee, my clients, who are very concerned about the proper functioning of the Knesset, especially the committee, will have no choice but to turn to the Supreme Court to obtain an injunction requiring you to take immediate action to appoint a chairman,” attorneys Shimi Baron and Eran Marienberg wrote.
 
“This would be necessary to maintain the proper functioning of the committee as part of the obligatory democratic balance.”
 
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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