Coalition blocks probe on storm

Opposition asked Knesset to approve investigation because government decided not to open its own.

December 26, 2013 01:56
1 minute read.
Snow is still piled up on King George St. in Jerusalem more than a week after the storm.

Storm aftermath 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The coalition blocked efforts by the opposition on Wednesday to initiate a parliamentary commission of inquiry to investigate the government’s handling of the snowstorm that wreaked havoc two weeks ago.

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog asked the Knesset to approve the probe because the government decided not to open its own investigation. But Herzog lost the vote, 37 to 31.

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“The government system failed in every aspect of its handling of the storm,” Herzog told the Knesset. “We are not looking to make heads roll but to fix the system.”

Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan responded by mocking the opposition of Herzog and other MKs to a commission of inquiry on the Carmel Fire three years ago.

He said that since then Israel had devoted resources to handling potential emergencies.

“We are far from being ready for any emergency but we have come a long way since Operation Pillar of Defense,” Erdan said. “I’m sure many people suffered from the snow and the lack of electricity. But it was wrong of Herzog to make it look like things are worse here than in other countries.”

But MKs did decide to evaluate aspects of the government’s handling of the snowstorm in subcommittees of the Knesset Interior Committee.

Each subcommittee will write a report that will be presented to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu next month.

Shas MK Eli Yishai, who heads a subcommittee on home front preparedness, said the storm proved that the various governmental authorities and ministries still do not coordinate their efforts enough to be effective.

At a joint meeting of the Knesset Interior and Foreign Affairs and Defense Committees Wednesday, Erdan said his ministry should be given more responsibilities over the country’s home front.

Erdan threatened to quit if his ministry is not given such responsibilities by the end of the month.

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