The Knesset must appoint a new chairman of its Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee by Thursday and end the circus on the issue, according to a statement by opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) regarding an ambiguous High Court of Justice decision dated to Sunday.
The decision itself merely demands that the state file a more formal response by Thursday, characterizing the state’s informal response from March as insufficient.
However, since the state also filed a further informal response on May 1, stating that the chairman would be selected by May 12, the decision appears to reject that position and demand a decision four days earlier.
The date for a formal response, May 8, is before the start of the Knesset’s summer session and would not allow for a chairman to be officially appointed, as Knesset House Committee meetings must be called at least three days in advance during the legislature’s recess.
At the same time, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to fly to Japan on May 11, but he is meant to be in the country for the new deadline.
The court spokesman’s office itself did not publish the decision through regular channels and did not respond by press time.
The decision comes in response to a petition from Herzog, Labor MKs Eitan Cabel and Nachman Shai and good-government NGO the Movement for Quality Government, submitted since the position has not been filled since Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman left it in November.
“It can’t be that for over half a year there is no parliamentary oversight on our security apparatus,” Herzog said. “This definitely harms the security of Israel’s citizens.”
Herzog accused the coalition of disrespecting the courts, the Knesset and the Israeli public.
“It’s no wonder that the judges no longer accept the government’s promises,” he added. “I hope the government will end the farce and appoint a committee chairman this week.”
Although legally, the responsibility to appoint committee chairmen falls on the Knesset speaker’s. The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is usually a political appointment by the prime minister.
Netanyahu is expected to choose either Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, departing coalition chairman Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu), Knesset House Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud Beytenu) or Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah for the prestigious post.