Dichter takes helm of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Hazan reelected as Deputy Speaker despite never running a plenum meeting; opposition rejects proposed new committees.

May 31, 2016 17:21
2 minute read.
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter voted in as the new chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee . (photo credit: YOSSI ZAMIR)

Former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter was unanimously voted in as the new chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday.

Dichter replaced MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), who was sworn in as a minister without portfolio Monday night.

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Hanegbi first became Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman in 2006, and served in the role in the 17th, 18th and 20th (current) Knessets.

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein praised Hanegbi as an experienced chairman who did important work behind the scenes.

“MK Dichter was such an obvious appointment, as someone who spent his whole life in the most sensitive places and gained parliamentary and ministerial experience in many positions.

I hope that your tenure in the committee will be as boring as possible, because that is what all the people of Israel want,” Edelstein stated.

Dichter said he has been familiar with the committee for 20 years, starting from when he was the head of the Shin Bet’s security department after former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, continuing to when he was Home Front Defense minister, and as a member and subcommittee chairman.

He will also be chairman of the Subcommittee on Intelligence, as is customary.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu originally promised the role to MK Anat Berko (Likud), but Dichter insisted on retaining it, as most Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairmen do. Berko, who has a PhD in criminology, focused on Palestinian terrorism, will be chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, instead.

Despite the downgrade, Berko said “there is no one more appropriate than Avi [Dichter] for the job. The committee is in the professional hands of a fair and serious man.”

Meanwhile, the Knesset House Committee voted to extend Likud MK Oren Hazan’s redundant tenure as deputy Knesset speaker.

Hazan has never led a plenum meeting, as is a deputy speaker’s job, because Edelstein refused to assign him shifts after a Channel 2 report last year that Hazan pimped and sold drugs while working at a casino in Bulgaria. Hazan is suing the reporter.

The one consequence of Hazan retaining the title is that he is paid an extra NIS 2,000 per month.

Hazan threatened to dig up dirt on Edelstein and make it public, but he has not yet succeeded in doing so. Since then, Hazan’s father, former MK Yechiel Hazan, who was caught voting twice – for himself and on the panel of an absent MK – in 2003 and then caught tampering with the evidence, accused Edelstein of being arrested on drug charges in the Soviet Union, which is true, except that Edelstein was framed so he could be arrested for clandestinely teaching Hebrew.

The vote on Hazan’s title came after the opposition rejected a proposal by coalition chairman David Bitan (Likud) to add four more committees to the Knesset, to solve political problems with disgruntled Likud MKs who want more prestigious jobs. Hazan would have been chairman of a committee on young people and students, and coalition coordinator in the Finance Committee MK Miki Zohar (Likud), who threatened to resign from the Knesset last week, would have led another committee.

Zionist Union faction chairwoman Merav Michaeli was offered to lead a committee on social justice, but rejected it, writing on twitter: “I didn’t agree to anything like that, and I will not be the head of any committee. If the government wants social justice, it should do it, not create a committee.”

Edelstein also expressed disapproval of the idea to Bitan.

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