Labor demands new Independence MK’s funding

Shakib Shanan’s motives for siding with Barak are brought into question.

Knesset building 390 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset building 390
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shakib Shanan became a member of Knesset in the Independence faction on Wednesday, as Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog filed a complaint saying funding allocated for the new lawmaker should go to the Labor Party.
Shanan, who was an MK in the 17th Knesset, was the next on Labor’s candidates list. However, because Defense Minister Ehud Barak and four other MKs broke off from Labor to form the Independence Party, the law states that Shanan could choose which faction to join if an Independence or Labor MK left the Knesset.
Last week, Homeland Security Minister Matan Vilna’i announced that he was resigning from the Knesset to become ambassador to China, and Shanan said he would join Independence.
The Knesset House Committee approved Shanan’s choice on Wednesday morning, with nine in favor and Herzog and MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima) opposed.
“My decision was based on values and morals,” Shanan told the committee. “I do not have the authority to cancel a seat in the Knesset that belongs to Independence.”
Herzog questioned Shanan’s motives, asking if any agreements were made between Independence and him.
In addition, Herzog said that the funding for Shanan should go to Labor, as he was elected from Labor’s Knesset list. The Labor faction chairman made the same demand in a letter he sent to Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday evening.
According to Herzog, the Knesset’s rules say that Shanan has a choice of which faction to join, but it does not say what should be done with his funding. In addition, campaign funding laws forbid a solitary MK leaving a faction from taking his funding with him.
“With all due respect, we cannot accept that the rights to funding will be taken away according to the whims of an incoming MK who made his decision for purely political reasons,” Herzog wrote.
House Committee chairman Yariv Levin (Likud) told Herzog that campaign funding was not the topic of the meeting, and would not allow it to be discussed.
Molla said that Shanan’s choice was “chair-ology, meant to fatten the upholstery on the prime minister’s chair,” and that ideology was not taken into consideration.