Firefighter carmel 311 ap.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Knesset’s State Control Committee was expected to vote Tuesday on the
establishment of a governmental investigative commission to probe the Carmel
fire, but despite intense lobbying by committee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima),
it seemed unlikely the initiative would pass.
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Although Shas chairman and
Interior Minister Eli Yishai has repeatedly said he supports such a probe, he
has refused to impose his opinion on MK Amnon Cohen, Shas’s representative on
the 11-member committee.
Cohen has consistently supported the
government’s position, which opposes the establishment of a probe beyond the
State Comptroller’s Report on the Fire and Rescue Services that was released
Without Cohen, and with opposition likely to come from five
other coalition MKs – the Likud’s Ophir Akunis, Tzipi Hotovely and Carmel
Shama-Hacohen, Habayit Hayehudi’s Uri Orbach and Israel Beiteinu’s Anastasia
Michaeli – Hasson’s last hope was to convince Labor holdout MK Ghaleb Majadle to
vote against the government.
In recent days, Majadle seemed to lean
toward opposing the probe as well, but promised he would announce his final
decision in advance of the vote.
After Kadima’s Knesset leadership
decided to impose faction discipline on the party’s three committee members, one
of them – MK Otniel Schneller – asked deputy faction chairman Yohanan Plesner to
replace him with another MK during the vote. Schneller said he would participate
in the meeting and present his opposition to a probe, but did not intend to vote
against his faction’s directive.
“I opposed the establishment of similar
probes in the past, which sometimes seemed to outnumber the events they were
supposed to investigate, and which utilized great amounts of paper in order to
find guilty parties but delayed the fixing of errors,” explained
“That is my opinion in this instance as well.”
proposed that we allow the government to act within a limited period of three
months to make decisions, including forming the legal basis for establishing a
national firefighting authority, directing the necessary resources and
determining a single ministry as responsible for the services,” continued
Schneller. “At the end of that period, the State Control Committee should meet
again and consider the government’s activities, and only then decide whether or
not to open a probe.”