Mofaz selected to head Foreign Affairs and Defense panel

Kadima MK unanimously appointed as interim head of committee to ensure that biennial defense budget is passed on time.

shaul mofaz 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
shaul mofaz 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) was appointed Tuesday as interim head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in order to ensure that the defense budget is passed on time, as coalition and opposition leadership still could not agree on a long-term chairman to lead the key Knesset panel.
In light of the political sparring, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin blasted both his own Likud party and Kadima for acting irresponsibly in refusing to agree on a successor to former committee chairman MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima).
Mofaz was unanimously selected by the House Committee to lead the Subcommittee for the Defense Budget, an interim position charged with handling the most critical issue facing the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee – passing Israel’s biennial defense budget in the coming month. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni will continue to try and reach an agreement as to who should lead the powerful committee.
Talks on Sunday between Netanyahu and Livni failed to reach an agreement on Hanegbi’s replacement. Following Hanegbi’s departure from the Knesset two weeks ago, Livni has stood by Kadima’s claim that the opposition party should be given the chairmanship of the Economic Affairs Committee, a position traditionally held by the opposition, 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 responsible for passing a number of the economic reforms that are closest to the prime minister’s heart.
Rivlin, who has already delivered several ultimatums regarding finding a new head for the committee, threatened during the House Committee meeting that if no solution could be found by next Monday, the House Committee would choose among the MKs who had nominated themselves for the position. Thus far, the only MK who has submitted his or her candidacy is longtime Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee member MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union).
“We cannot abandon security needs because of political desires and internal disputes,” complained Rivlin. “There is a boundary – even to political arguments, legitimate as they may be. One cannot hold the defense services hostage due to political distress, and one cannot abandon our obligations to run the country because of political obstacles.”
Rivlin told MKs that the director-general of the Defense Ministry had asked him to urgently appoint a chairperson to lead the committee.
“It has never happened that the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has gone without a chairperson,” added Rivlin. “It has never happened that for such a long period, the heads of the defense communities and those holding the country’s highest positions have not been able to appear before the committee and update the Knesset on security issues.”