The Knesset .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Knesset is expected to authorize MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) and MK Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) as temporary deputy speakers on Monday, while several parties are pushing their candidates to permanently take the job.
The last Knesset had 10 deputy speakers, six from the coalition and four from the opposition. The deputy speaker’s job is to fill in for the Knesset Speaker when he is unable to preside over meetings. Generally, they work in shifts, especially for plenum meetings expected to last many hours.
In addition, the Speaker and his deputies make up a forum known as the Knesset Presidium, which authorizes the submission of private member (non-ministerial) bills and urgent motions to the agenda. The Presidium has the power to prevent bills from ever being brought to a vote, but very rarely uses it.
The deputy speaker position came up in coalition talks, with Shas asking that Vaknin, who held the position for Shas in the 15th, 18th and 19th Knessets, be appointed to the job again.
Likud sources said Shas is asking for too many positions for a party that has only seven seats.
Shas, however, did not take no for an answer, with a party spokesman saying on Sunday that the matter is still under negotiation, and “like in any negotiation, each side wants different things.”
One compromise under consideration is a rotation between Vaknin and a representative of UTJ , which has six seats. MK Uri Maklev was UTJ ’s deputy Knesset speaker in the last Knesset.
Likud declined answer questions as to how many deputy speakers will be members of the party, now that it has 30 seats, saying that they are not negotiating for jobs via the press. In the last Knesset, it had two for 21 seats.
Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi struggled to find an MK to fill the deputy speaker position.
A source close to party chairman Naftali Bennett explained that he wants MKs who are loyal to him to fill as many committee seats as possible, and deputy speakers are generally on fewer committees.
The source said the deputy speaker job was offered to MK Motti Yogev, who spoke out in the past against Bennett and the power the Bayit Yehudi constitution gives him, but that Yogev turned it down. The MK’s spokesman denied he was ever offered the job.
The position is now likely to go to new MK Bezalel Smotrich, from the Tekuma Party within the Bayit Yehudi faction, the source added.
MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) said Sunday he would like to remain deputy speaker, a position he shared with MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Union) on a rotation basis in the last Knesset, saying it is “an important job that is central to Knesset activity,” but that the party has yet to discuss distributing titles.
Similarly, a spokesman for MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint List), who held the position in the last Knesset, said the faction is not discussing jobs yet.
On Monday, a vote in the plenum to approve Shai and Vaknin’s appointment will take place, after the Knesset’s Organizing Committee, a temporary body led by MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) that will exist until a new government is formed, voted on the matter last week. Vaknin will also be Speaker for several days at the end of the month, when Edelstein goes on a personal trip abroad.