Knesset approves Barak allies as ministers amid antics

Kadima MKs spray air freshener to protest ‘stinking deal’; Braverman decries ‘knockout to peace process.'

By REBECCA ANNA STOIL, GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
January 19, 2011 18:55
Kadima MKs spray air freshener in protest

Knesset Air Freshener 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The Knesset placed the final brick in Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s plan to take revenge against Labor ministers who had challenged his party leadership when it voted 53-40 on Wednesday evening to approve the appointments of Barak loyalists to new and improved ministerial positions.

Opposition members, including Labor MKs still acclimating themselves to the opposite side of the Knesset aisle, lashed out at Barak and his allies for leaving the party and accused them of being motivated solely by personal opportunism.

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Newly resigned minorities affairs minister Avishay Braverman called their move “a knockout to the peace process,” while Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit said the events constituted a dark week in Israel’s history.

“I’ve been here 30 years and I’ve not yet seen such a malodorous trick,” Sheetrit declared. “I’m sure that many of the coalition members need to take anti-nausea pills in order to vote for such a dirty maneuver.”

Shortly before the four ministers of the new Independence faction were sworn into office, several Kadima MKs pulled out spray-cans of air freshener and began to empty their contents in the plenum to protest the “stinking deal,” a phrase that entered the lexicon decades ago following similar political maneuverings. The lawmakers were quickly removed from the hall as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called their show “shameful.”

This was not the first time Kadima members used props to convey such a message – during a previous plenum protest, party MKs donned face masks to protest the “political stink.”

Likud officials were not willing, however, to leave Kadima with the last word.



“In the coming three years, Kadima will keep its gimmicks, and the Likud will keep the government,” a party spokeswoman said. “Likud will keep the government portfolios, while Kadima will keep police files. No spray can disperse the bad stench of Kadima’s police files.”

Kadima too issued a response, arguing that the party that supported “the rapist president” should not talk about police files.

Earlier, the cabinet voted in a special session at the Knesset to approve the appointments of Shalom Simhon as industry, trade and labor minister, Orit Noked as agriculture minister, and Matan Vilna’i to head the new Homeland The Knesset placed the final brick in Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s plan to take revenge against Labor ministers who had challenged his party leadership when it voted 53-40 on Wednesday evening to approve the appointments of Barak loyalists to new and improved ministerial positions.

Opposition members, including Labor MKs still acclimating themselves to the opposite side of the Knesset aisle, lashed out at Barak and his allies for leaving the party and accused them of being motivated solely by personal opportunism.

Newly resigned minorities affairs minister Avishay Braverman called their move “a knockout to the peace process,” while Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit said the events constituted a dark week in Israel’s history.

“I’ve been here 30 years and I’ve not yet seen such a malodorous trick,” Sheetrit declared. “I’m sure that many of the coalition members need to take anti-nausea pills in order to vote for such a dirty maneuver.”

Shortly before the four ministers of the new Independence faction were sworn into office, several Kadima MKs pulled out spray-cans of air freshener and began to empty their contents in the plenum to protest the “stinking deal,” a phrase that entered the lexicon decades ago following similar political maneuverings. The lawmakers were quickly removed from the hall as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called their show “shameful.”

This was not the first time Kadima members used props to convey such a message – during a previous plenum protest, party MKs donned face masks to protest the “political stink.”

Likud officials were not willing, however, to leave Kadima with the last word.

“In the coming three years, Kadima will keep its gimmicks, and the Likud will keep the government,” a party spokeswoman said. “Likud will keep the government portfolios, while Kadima will keep police files. No spray can disperse the bad stench of Kadima’s police files.”

Kadima too issued a response, arguing that the party that supported “the rapist president” should not talk about police files.

Earlier, the cabinet voted in a special session at the Knesset to approve the appointments of Shalom Simhon as industry, trade and labor minister, Orit Noked as agriculture minister, and Matan Vilna’i to head the new Homeland The Knesset placed the final brick in Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s plan to take revenge against Labor ministers who had challenged his party leadership when it voted 53-40 on Wednesday evening to approve the appointments of Barak loyalists to new and improved ministerial positions.

Opposition members, including Labor MKs still acclimating themselves to the opposite side of the Knesset aisle, lashed out at Barak and his allies for leaving the party and accused them of being motivated solely by personal opportunism.

Newly resigned minorities affairs minister Avishay Braverman called their move “a knockout to the peace process,” while Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit said the events constituted a dark week in Israel’s history.

“I’ve been here 30 years and I’ve not yet seen such a malodorous trick,” Sheetrit declared. “I’m sure that many of the coalition members need to take anti-nausea pills in order to vote for such a dirty maneuver.”

Shortly before the four ministers of the new Independence faction were sworn into office, several Kadima MKs pulled out spray-cans of air freshener and began to empty their contents in the plenum to protest the “stinking deal,” a phrase that entered the lexicon decades ago following similar political maneuverings. The lawmakers were quickly removed from the hall as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called their show “shameful.”

This was not the first time Kadima members used props to convey such a message – during a previous plenum protest, party MKs donned face masks to protest the “political stink.”

Likud officials were not willing, however, to leave Kadima with the last word.

“In the coming three years, Kadima will keep its gimmicks, and the Likud will keep the government,” a party spokeswoman said. “Likud will keep the government portfolios, while Kadima will keep police files. No spray can disperse the bad stench of Kadima’s police files.”

Kadima too issued a response, arguing that the party that supported “the rapist president” should not talk about police files.

Earlier, the cabinet voted in a special session at the Knesset to approve the appointments of Shalom Simhon as industry, trade and labor minister, Orit Noked as agriculture minister, and Matan Vilna’i to head the new HomelandSecurity Ministry.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting that such ministries are prevalent around the world, including in the United States, and that no one was more suited to the post than Vilna’i. He also said the other appointees were ideal candidates for their new positions.

Netanyahu changed two appointments at the last minute. He gave Simhon responsibility for minorities because Arab leaders did not want to be under a ministry responsible for security. He also decided to temporarily give the Welfare and Social Services portfolio to Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon (Likud) rather than keep it for himself. The decision came after outgoing minister Isaac Herzog called on Netanyahu to immediately appoint a replacement for a ministry he called “the real social security office of the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu said Kahlon would do the job well because he comes from a large family in Givat Olga and knows poverty first-hand. Social workers and nonprofit organizations praised Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Kahlon for an interim threemonth period.

“We welcome the prime minister’s decision to appoint a fulltime minister to this post,” Itzhik Perry, head of the Social Workers Union, said in a statement.

“Moshe Kahlon will be a courageous minister who has already proven his ability to bring about reforms in the realm of social welfare. Based on this, we believe he will help make the necessary changes to the welfare system, which are so deeply needed in the State of Israel.”

Ran Melamed, deputy director of social policy and communication for YEDID – The Association for Community Empowerment, told The Jerusalem Post that NGOs also believe Kahlon is the right person for this job but did not understand why the appointment was only for three months.

“We have worked with him for many years on a variety of legislation and policy,” Melamed said. “He could be the perfect minister, but the question is, why is it only for a short period and what will happen three months from now?”

Daniel Clinton and Ruth Eglash contributed to this report.


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