Avi Dichter 311 AJ.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The chairmanship of two key Knesset committees hangs in the balance ahead of
Tuesday’s Kadima race.
Kadima leadership hopeful MK Shaul Mofaz is the
chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, a job usually
given to a coalition lawmaker, while MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud) heads the
Economics Committee, which is traditionally an opposition post. Likud and
Kadima are meant to trade committees by the Knesset’s summer session, which
begins at the end of April.
While Likud sources say the party would be
happy to leave the committees as they are, the final decision will likely depend
on whether Mofaz or Livni wins the primary.
Sources in Mofaz’s camp have
denied rumors that the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman has
promised to give his position to MK Avi Dichter (Kadima), in return for Dichter
quitting the Kadima race and endorsing Mofaz.
Other sources said that
Mofaz would continue to head the Foreign Affairs Committee even if he becomes
the next leader of Kadima, so he could use it as a platform to speak out against
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on security issues, as he has done in the
Both Mofaz and Livni could use the Economics Committee to their
political advantage, giving the chairman position as an appreciative gesture to
allies or a way to placate opponents within Kadima.
Should the Economics
Committee remain in the Likud’s hands, Shama-Hacohen may have to fight to defend
his seat. At the beginning of this Knesset, MK Ofir Akunis (Likud) was chairman
of the key committee, which deals with topics such as transportation,
communications, consumer issues and others.
While Shama-Hacohen is
supposed to step down before the summer session, Netanyahu could give him an
extra four months, since Akunis served in the position four months longer than
Shama-Hacohen is seen as one of the more sociallyminded Likud
legislators, which could help boost the Likud’s image in the next elections.
However, he has also spoken out against the coalition on related issues, such as
gas and housing prices.
Akunis, on the other hand, is both very close and
very loyal to Netanyahu, and caused less “trouble” as chairman of the Economics
With all of these factors at play, the outcome is still
unclear, but some sort of committee chairmanship shuffle can be expected at the
end of next month.