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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The chairwoman of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Dorit Beinisch, said Wednesday she needed more time to consider whether or not she was authorized to hear a Labor Party petition claiming that three party members who switched to Kadima were barred by law from running for the 17th Knesset.
The three MKs in question are Shimon Peres, Haim Ramon and Dalia Itzik. They announced they were leaving Labor soon after Amir Peretz beat Peres in the party leadership primary. The three did not resign from the Knesset, which was already nearing the end of its term. All three are high up on the Kadima list of candidates for the next Knesset.
The Labor Party charged that since Peres, Ramon and Itzik did not resign from the Knesset as soon as they left Labor, they should be regarded as Knesset members "who left their faction."
According to Article 6A (a), of the Basic Law: Knesset, "A member of Knesset who leaves his faction and does not resign from office at the time of his leaving, shall not be included, in the elections for the next Knesset, in the list of candidates submitted by a party that was represented by a faction of the outgoing Knesset."
According to the following provision, the above applies only if the MK who left his faction received "compensation [from another Knesset faction] in exchange for his vote." One form of compensation mentioned in the law is "the assurance of a place on the list" of Knesset candidates of the rival party in the next election.
Amnon Lorch, the head of the Labor Party delegation in the Central Elections Committee said of Peres, "the day after he lost the primary election, a new ideology suddenly flickered, he saw the light in Ehud Olmert and immediately jumped, as if seized by a craze, into the warm lap of his ministerial chair, in order to make sure he kept it." During the discussion, it emerged that there was a difference of opinion between Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and Knesset legal adviser Nurit Elstein, as to what body was authorized to deal with the complaint.
Mazuz argued that the Central Elections Committee should deal with it. Elstein, however, maintained that the Knesset House Committee had to decide whether the actions of three renegade MKs, fulfilled the criteria of "leaving his faction," according to the Basic Law: Knesset. It was the Knesset's prerogative to do so, she said.
Attorney Ram Caspi, who is representing Peretz and Itzik, and attorney Eitan Haberman, who is representing Ramon, also argued that the Knesset House Committee, which is headed by Kadima MK Roni Bar-On, should decide the matter.