Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will appoint a new Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman by March 31.
Netanyahu made the commitment in a response to a petition to the High Court by Labor MKs Isaac Herzog, Eitan Cabel and Nachman Shai as well as the Movement for Quality Government asking that Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein be forced to appoint a leader for the panel, which has not had a permanent chairman since Avigdor Liberman was reinstated as foreign minister in November.
The response given by the State Attorney’s Office in Netanyahu’s name points out that this is a political matter and says it should be worked out “in appropriate political frameworks and not in the honorable court.” As such, the response includes a request to remove the prime minister from the petition.
In addition, the response says that, since the problem will be solved by the end of the month, the petition is unnecessary and the court has no reason to discuss it.
The delay in appointing a committee chairman is rooted in a disagreement between Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid over who should hold the position. The two eventually agreed to a rotation between Knesset House Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud Beytenu) and Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah, but could not decide who should go first.
Meanwhile, Edelstein appointed himself temporary chairman of the committee and chose MKs to lead its meetings.
Last month, the Labor MKs told the High Court that Netanyahu and Edelstein are “unable to reach an agreement... 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.”
Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon responded on Sunday that “the current situation… has not yet reached a situation in which there is considerable damage to the fabric of parliamentary life and the fundamental values of the regime, which would justify an unusual and unprecedented intervention by the High Court in the form of an order requiring the Knesset to choose a committee chairman.