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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Knesset House Committee voted to remove MK Ya'acov Litzman (UTJ) from his post as chairman of the Finance Committee Monday, paving the way for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to proceed with his cabinet reshuffle.
In a slim vote of 13-12, the committee approved a recommendation to the Finance Committee that Litzman be removed from his post.
In a secondary vote, the committee voted 21-4 in favor of replacing Litzman with MK Stas Meseznikov (Israel Beiteinu).
The vote must now pass the Finance Committee, where Litzman enjoys popular support from both coalition and opposition MKs.
Coalition Chairman MK Avigdor Yitzhaki will have to petition several coalition members, including Labor MKs Shelly Yacimovich and Orit Noked and MK David Tal (Kadima), in order to ensure that Litzman is ousted.
Those three MKs have stated that they will likely abstain from the vote since Litzman is a "great chairman" who has proven his ability to lead the prestigious committee since he was assigned that post in 1999.
"As popular a chairman as Litzman may be, politics is politics and he should leave the position gracefully," said MK Estherina Tartman (Israel Beiteinu).
Litzman also defended himself to the House Committee, stating that replacing him at this juncture was "unnecessary" and that he would not "go quietly."
Yitzhaki confirmed that once Litzman was replaced by Meseznikov, the coalition would go ahead with a number of ministerial appointments including naming MK Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Israel Beiteinu) tourism minister and Labor MKs Isaac Herzog and Ghaleb Majadle as welfare minister and science, culture and sports minister, respectively.