(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A farcical tangle of events led to the Zionist Union choosing MK Eitan Cabel as Knesset Economics Committee chairman on Monday evening.
Cabel and MK Shelly Yacimovich both wanted the position, and Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog was unable to forge a compromise with them after weeks of agonizing over the issue. The two competitors gave interviews about why the position was important to them and why having a vote was not such a bad idea, and finally, in the afternoon, Herzog put the matter to a vote in the faction.
Meanwhile, the Knesset Interim Committee assigned MKs to committees and at their helms, with the Zionist Union not taking part, as it put all positions reserved for it on hold until after the vote.
As the voting took place, Yacimovich and Cabel sat in the Zionist Union faction room, watching everyone who came in and out. The poll was supposed to close at 5:30 p.m., but MK Revital Swid, who was in New York for the Salute to Israel Parade on Sunday, still had not returned.
Swid, who had already landed at Ben-Gurion Airport, asked that her aide be allowed to vote.
Cabel was fine with that, but Yacimovich said that without a signed statement giving the aide that power, the ballot would not be legal.
The aide refused to leave the polling place so as not to lose her right to vote. Meanwhile, the Zionist Union’s legal adviser said it was all right for her to cast the ballot, but Yacimovich said she would bring her own legal opinion.
In the end, almost an hour late, the party began counting the votes, deciding it would only deal with Swid’s if there were a tie.
Eventually, Cabel won 13-8, saying that Yacimovich “could have done as good a job as I could, but I’m glad I won.”
The other major battle in Zionist Union, over who will be faction chairman, had yet to be settled and it was still unknown at press time how it would be settled, whether by vote or compromise or an executive decision from Herzog. MKs Merav Michaeli, Hilik Bar and Omer Bar-Lev all seek the position.
The Zionist Union and Yesh Atid had yet to come to a decision as to which party will have the leadership of the State Control Committee, with the latter wanting MK Karin Alharrar to get the job.
United Torah Judaism also did not finish assignments to committees because of infighting, though it decided that MK Moshe Gafni will be Finance Committee chairman and MK Uri Maklev will head the Science and Technology Committee.
Otherwise, the Knesset approved the makeup of its committees. The Likud’s David Bitan will be House Committee chairman for a year, and then will be replaced by the party’s MK Yoav Kisch. MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) will be Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman and Bayit Yehudi’s MK Nissan Slomiansky will head the Law, Constitution and Justice Committee, while Likud MK David Amsalem will be chairman of the Interior Committee.
MK Ya’acov Margi of Shas will take the helm of the Education, Culture and Sport Committee, while MK Avraham Naguise (Likud) will be Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee chairman and MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) will run the Knesset Committee on the Advancement of the Status of Women. Kulanu’s MK Eli Alalouf, who used to head the Welfare Ministry’s Commission on Decreasing Poverty, will head the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee and MK Eli Cohen of Kulanu will lead a special committee on passing economic reforms.
Deputy Knesset speakers are MKs Oren Hazan (Likud), Nurit Koren (Likud), Tali Ploskov (Kulanu), Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) and Shai Piron (Yesh Atid). Three more deputies are expected to be appointed.