PM given new deadline for Foreign Affairs and Defense chair

Kadima, which has its eye on Knesset’s Economic Affairs panel, is refusing to collaborate with Netanyahu’s nomination efforts.

November 16, 2010 02:14
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu headshot. (photo credit: Marc Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has less than a week to find a new chairman for the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin announced Monday.

But while the prime minister’s time seemed to be running low, Kadima dug in during its weekly faction meeting, fortifying its insistence that it should be released from the chairmanship of the committee so it can head the Economic Affairs Committee instead.

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Rivlin briefed the Knesset leadership during its weekly meeting that he had spoken on Sunday with Netanyahu and that the premier had agreed to Rivlin’s demand that the position – left empty after the suspension of MK Tzahi Hanegbi last Tuesday – be filled in the coming days, and no later than next Monday.

During their conversation, Rivlin reminded Netanyahu that it was urgent to find a chairman for “such a sensitive committee,” and that without one, the committee could not be convened to discuss pressing issues.

The speaker also warned Netanyahu that if no suitable candidate could be found from either the coalition or the opposition, he would personally appear before the House Committee to demand the appointment of a temporary chairman.

Kadima, the main stumbling block between Netanyahu and a new Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman, responded Monday by toughening its stance, refusing to allow any of its members to take the job.

Kadima has consistently argued that the position was to be held by the opposition party only temporarily, and that in light of Hanegbi’s suspension, the faction should instead be given the chairmanship of the Economic Affairs Committee, traditionally held by an opposition party.

“The Economic Affairs Committee has great significance for the opposition,” said Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni during the weekly faction meeting. “This is a legislating committee, and all of the faction members emphasize the need to insist that we get the leadership of this committee – and that is what we will do.”

Livni rebuffed claims that her opposition to maintaining the leadership of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee was based on the fact that her party rival, MK Shaul Mofaz, was the most likely candidate.

“There are those who have tried to direct the discussion to a personal level between myself and Shaul Mofaz,” said Livni.

“From my perspective, there is no personal issue here. There will not be one, and I will not let anyone turn it into one. If it is decided that we are to receive the chair of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, then there is no more suitable candidate than Mofaz, a former defense minister.”

Kadima MKs agreed unanimously during the faction meeting that Kadima would not nominate a candidate for the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, despite the fact that House Committee Chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud) asked all Knesset factions to do so.

The faction also unanimously ruled that no Kadima MK would cooperate with the coalition on the matter without first receiving the approval of the Kadima faction.

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