MK Hasson faces gov't resistance to Carmel fire probe

Although State Control C'tee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima) is a strong advocate of establishing official inquiry, coalition holds a majority on c'tee

December 10, 2010 03:50
2 minute read.
Firefighters putting out blaze near Tirat Hacarmel

311_awesome wildfire photo. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A day after the State Comptroller’s Report on the Fire and Rescue Service set off a political firestorm, pressure increased Thursday on coalition MKs on the State Control Committee to vote against the establishment of a governmental investigative commission.

Knesset legal adviser Eyal Inon confirmed Thursday that it would only take a simple majority of the 11 MKs on the committee to establish a commission to investigate the chain of events that led to the disastrous Carmel fire.

Although committee chairman MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) is a strong advocate of establishing a probe, the coalition holds a majority on the committee, and most coalition MKs are less enthusiastic.

The coalition had tried to maintain that a two-thirds majority was necessary to set up such a probe, but that proposition was quashed by Inon’s ruling.

The committee is set to vote Tuesday on whether to launch such a probe. In the meantime, coalition officials are pushing MKs on the committee to oppose Hasson’s initiative.

With five coalition MKs – Likud MKs Ophir Akunis, Tzipi Hotovely and Carmel Shama-Hacohen, MK Uri Orbach (Habayit Hayehudi) and MK Anastasia Michaeli (Israel Beiteinu) – certain to oppose the probe, Hasson will have an uphill attempt to enlist support from coalition MK Ghaleb Majadle (Labor) or from MK Amnon Cohen (Shas).

Majadle is wavering on the decision, despite the fact that Labor Party chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak opposes such a probe, while Cohen opposes the probe, although his party chairman, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, supports it.

Even among Kadima MKs, opinions were mixed on whether to establish an investigative commission.

“I don’t believe in investigative commissions,” MK Ronnie Bar-On, who served as finance minister in the previous government, told Israel Radio on Thursday.

“The facts are clear, and whoever failed needs to go home.”

The State Control Committee will have an opportunity to see the results of the Carmel fire firsthand before they vote on the probe, when the MKs visit the fire-impacted region on Sunday.

The Carmel fire will dominate Knesset committee hearings in the coming week, with the Interior Committee holding a major hearing on the fire, with the participation of both Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch.

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