FADC chairmanship standoff pushes off Ashkenazi briefing

No hearings may be held in powerful committee until a new chairperson is selected; Kadima reinforces stance of refusing to nominate one of its members.

Ashkenazi at Migdal Haemek school 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Ashkenazi at Migdal Haemek school 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
After weeks of warnings, the political crisis surrounding the leadership of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee succeeded in delaying a longscheduled hearing scheduled for Tuesday with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
No hearings may be held in the powerful committee until a new chairperson is selected, but on Monday, Kadima reinforced its stance of refusing to nominate one of its members to lead the committee.
Ashkenazi periodically briefs the panel on Israel’s security status, and Tuesday’s meeting was to be one of the IDF commander’s last briefings before he retires from active service. Without a chairperson, however, the committee cannot be convened, so the Knesset confirmed Monday that Ashkenazi’s briefing would be postponed to a later date.
The House Committee is scheduled to convene on Wednesday to elect a new chairperson to replace former MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima), who was suspended from Knesset duties last month. So far, the only faction that has nominated a candidate for the position is the National Union Party, which has tabbed longtime committee member MK Arye Eldad for the post.
The Likud has insisted that Kadima must nominate a candidate to succeed Hanegbi, but Kadima has resolutely asserted that the opposition should be given the chairmanship of the Economic Affairs Committee, which it traditionally holds, in exchange for the leadership of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
Netanyahu has been reluctant to turn over the Economic Affairs Committee, which is tasked with passing a number of the economic reforms that are close to the prime minister’s heart.
On Monday, Kadima voted 14-1 with two abstentions to demand once again that “the understanding between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni that Kadima will receive the Economic Affairs Committee be fulfilled.”
Kadima has argued that from the formation of the government in spring 2009, there was a mutual understanding that the leadership of the two committees in question would be switched at some point.
“Kadima will not be party to any parliamentary manipulations designed to remove responsibility for the status of the Knesset’s committees from the prime minister’s and the coalition’s hands,” the faction said in a statement following its weekly meeting.
During the meeting, Kadima also reiterated that it would not nominate any candidate for approval by the House Committee “until the dialogue between Netanyahu and Livni is exhausted.”
Last week, the two party leaders met to discuss the subject, but failed to reach an agreement.
Netanyahu said they would meet again.
On Monday, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin demanded that the House Committee make the appointment during the Wednesday meeting, whether or not any other factions made nominations.
The Likud has threatened to nominate Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz to the position, whether or not his own party agrees.
If Mofaz agreed to take the chairmanship, he would be in violation of a Kadima decision made two weeks ago, when the faction unanimously ruled that no Kadima MK would cooperate with the coalition’s intentions without first receiving the faction’s approval.
Last week, however, Kadima consented to Mofaz’s selection to lead the Subcommittee for the Defense Budget, an interim position tasked with handling the most critical issue facing the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: passing Israel’s biennial defense budget in the coming month.