Mofaz appointed to head Foreign Affairs, Defense Committee

Replacement for Hanegbi finally made following weeks of debate between Likud and Kadima.

December 1, 2010 12:41
2 minute read.

Mofaz. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)

After weeks of disagreement between Kadima and Likud, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to appoint MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) to chair the powerful committee.

The position, which remained unfilled following MK Tzahi Hanegbi’s (Kadima) suspension from Knesset service, was the source of conflict between the Knesset’s two biggest parties until Kadima acquiesced to nominating Mofaz to chair the committee until August 5.

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House Committee Chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud) scheduled a House Committee meeting to nominate a new Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman for Wednesday morning, and told MKs that there would be no further delays in the appointment process.

Prior to Wednesday, Kadima had refused to nominate a candidate for the position, insisting that the leadership of the committee should be granted to a coalition party, while Kadima would recover leadership of the Economic Affairs Committee, traditionally held by an opposition party. For weeks, Kadima would not cooperate with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s desire to keep the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in Kadima’s hands.

The opposition faction held two separate internal votes in which they resolved that no faction member would comply with a potential appointment unless the entire faction approved.

On Wednesday morning, Kadima called an urgent party meeting before the House Committee session in order to do just that – and voted to agree to Mofaz’s appointment on the condition that he only hold the position until the end of the Knesset’s summer term.

After Kadima cleared the way, the House Committee voted unanimously to endorse Mofaz’s candidacy, with Levin telling Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee members that their selection would “leave the committee in good hands.”

Hours later, the committee met in special session to elect Mofaz as its chair, in what turned out to be the second unanimous vote of the day.

Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni congratulated her inparty rival for his appointment, emphasizing that his extensive security-related resume makes him “over-qualified for the position” and that “there are many in Kadima who are qualified for even greater positions than leading Knesset committees.”

Mofaz himself emphasized that he “viewed the position as one of great responsibility.”

“Israel is standing before complex diplomatic and security challenges, and we will act with responsibility,” he told committee members. “We must fortify Israel’s security, and together with that, we must lead the country to great steps in the diplomatic field, to a peace agreement.”

But not everyone felt that only congratulations were in order. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin complained during the House Committee meeting that “there is no similar precedent in which a political argument so damaged the daily operations of the Knesset. The parties did demonstrate responsibility today, but it came very late. All of this political disagreement should have been resolved in one week.

“There cannot be situations such as these in which the Knesset is rendered incapable of providing oversight for the government, especially in such a critical field,” Rivlin said.

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