Knesset legal adviser disqualifies vote on ‘Bibi-tours'

Eyal Inon says there had been no flaws in the vote itself, committee’s conclusions would be delayed until a second vote could be held.

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL
April 1, 2011 05:42
2 minute read.
PM Netanyahu in the Knesset plenum

Netanyahu in Knesset alone 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Knesset legal adviser Eyal Inon on Thursday night disqualified a vote held the day before during an emergency session of the Knesset’s State Control Committee to grant State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss special authority to probe the “Bibi-tours” affair.

Coalition members said they had not been properly notified of the last-minute meeting and vote, which was attended by only three MKs, all from Kadima.

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The vote had authorized Lindenstrauss’s senior aide on corruption, Nahum Levi, to probe allegations that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu used donor money to fund costly personal trips for himself and his family before taking office.

Before Inon disqualified the vote, Lindenstrauss announced that his office would be launching an official inquiry into the affair with or without the special jurisdiction he had sought from the committee.

Inon emphasized that there had been no flaws in the vote itself, adding that the committee’s conclusions would be delayed until a second vote could be held. First, he said, committee members will have to vote on whether a second vote should be held – a vote that the coalition will win, as it holds the majority on the committee.

“I welcome the legal adviser’s decision, which officially affirmed the complete legitimacy of the procedure that I held,” responded committee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima). “I hope that all of the MKs who complained loudly against the procedure will take back all of their defamations, stand up before the public and show them, through their vote, that they support granting all the necessary authority to the state comptroller in his struggle against public corruption.”

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin had asked Inon to probe Hasson’s actions after coalition MKs complained both to him and to the house’s Ethics Committee that they had not received ample notice of the meeting and had not been informed about the subject matter.

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According to Rivlin, Hasson did not inform him of the topic when the committee chairman sought permission to hold the meeting during the plenum debate on the Sheshinski Law.

Any committee meeting scheduled while the plenum is in session must receive special permission from the speaker.

Hasson, in response, emphasized that he had consulted with the committee’s legal adviser regarding its authority, and that it had been Rivlin who, at 1:40 p.m., approved the meeting on condition that it not be held after 2:30 p.m. He added that the vote was held 15 minutes into the session, and that it had been the state comptroller himself who requested the vote.

Hasson further said that “the committee was convened in coordination with the Knesset speaker after we showed him a letter from the state comptroller to the committee chairman.

All of the committee members received notice of the meeting detailing the comptroller’s request, and if they had studied the information placed before them, they would have nothing to complain about – it was all on the table before the speaker and the committee members.”

MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), one of the coalition members on the committee, filed an official complaint against Hasson Thursday with the Knesset’s Ethics Committee, arguing that he had acted improperly in failing to appropriately inform coalition members of the vote.

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