Knesset: High Court shouldn't intervene in Foreign Affairs, Defense C'tee chairman debacle

Petitioners complain that prestigious panel has not had a permanent chairman since Avigdor Liberman became Foreign Minister in November.

March 9, 2014 22:02
1 minute read.
The Knesset.

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

The High Court does not have grounds to intervene in the selection of a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman, Knesset Legal Adviser Eyal Yinon wrote Sunday.

Furthermore, he wrote, such intervention would harm Israel’s democratic values.

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Yinon was responding to petitions to the High Court submitted by Labor MKs Isaac Herzog, Eitan Cabel, and Nachman Shai, as well as the Movement for Quality Government, complaining that the prestigious panel has not had a permanent chairman since Avigdor Liberman became foreign minister in November.

According to Yinon, “The current situation…has not yet reached a situation in which there is considerable damage to the fabric of parliamentary life and the fundamental values of the regime that would justify an unusual and unprecedented intervention by the High Court in the form of an order requiring the Knesset to choose a committee chairman.”

Yinon pointed out that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein has the authority to appoint temporary chairmen to run Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meetings and that its subcommittees continue to function as usual.

“Of course, if the existing situation continues past the time suggested by the change to regulations – May 29, 2014 – it could be damaging,” Yinon continued. “Therefore, it was made clear that if the problem is not solved by then, the Knesset will require a new legal opinion dealing with the harm caused and its operative results.”

The delay in appointing a committee chairman is rooted in a disagreement between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid over who should hold the position. The two eventually agreed to a rotation between Knesset House Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud Beytenu) and Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah, but could not decide who should go first.

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