Ashkenazi at Migdal Haemek school 311.
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
After weeks of warnings, the political crisis surrounding the leadership of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee succeeded in delaying a longscheduled hearing scheduled for Tuesday with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
No hearings may be held in the powerful committee until a new chairperson is selected, but on Monday, Kadima reinforced its stance of refusing to nominate one of its members to lead the committee.
Ashkenazi periodically briefs the panel on Israel’s security status, and Tuesday’s meeting was to be one of the IDF commander’s last briefings before he retires from active service. Without a chairperson, however, the committee cannot be convened, so the Knesset confirmed Monday that Ashkenazi’s briefing would be postponed to a later date.
The House Committee is scheduled to convene on Wednesday to elect a new chairperson to replace former MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima), who was suspended from Knesset duties last month. So far, the only faction that has nominated a candidate for the position is the National Union Party, which has tabbed longtime committee member MK Arye Eldad for the post.
The Likud has insisted that Kadima must nominate a candidate to succeed Hanegbi, but Kadima has resolutely asserted that the opposition should be given the chairmanship of the Economic Affairs Committee, which it traditionally holds, in exchange for the leadership of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Netanyahu has been reluctant to turn over the Economic Affairs
Committee, which is tasked with passing a number of the economic reforms
that are close to the prime minister’s heart.
On Monday, Kadima voted 14-1 with two abstentions to demand once again
that “the understanding between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and
Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni that Kadima will receive the Economic
Affairs Committee be fulfilled.”
Kadima has argued that from the formation of the government in spring
2009, there was a mutual understanding that the leadership of the two
committees in question would be switched at some point.
“Kadima will not be party to any parliamentary manipulations designed to
remove responsibility for the status of the Knesset’s committees from
the prime minister’s and the coalition’s hands,” the faction said in a
statement following its weekly meeting.
During the meeting, Kadima also reiterated that it would not nominate
any candidate for approval by the House Committee “until the dialogue
between Netanyahu and Livni is exhausted.”
Last week, the two party leaders met to discuss the subject, but failed to reach an agreement.
Netanyahu said they would meet again.
On Monday, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin demanded that the House
Committee make the appointment during the Wednesday meeting, whether or
not any other factions made nominations.
The Likud has threatened to nominate Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz to the position, whether or not his own party agrees.
If Mofaz agreed to take the chairmanship, he would be in violation of a
Kadima decision made two weeks ago, when the faction unanimously ruled
that no Kadima MK would cooperate with the coalition’s intentions
without first receiving the faction’s approval.
Last week, however, Kadima consented to Mofaz’s selection to lead the
Subcommittee for the Defense Budget, an interim position tasked with
handling the most critical issue facing the Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee: passing Israel’s biennial defense budget in the coming month.