Knesset vote to probe Netanyahu on Submarine Affair canceled

Supreme Court petitioned to overturn Knesset speaker's decision to revote

Knesset opposition cries out against cancellation of to probe Netanyahu on Submarine Affair after results positive (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN - SHMULIK GROSSMAN)
Knesset opposition cries out against cancellation of to probe Netanyahu on Submarine Affair after results positive
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESWOMAN - SHMULIK GROSSMAN)
The Knesset’s interim legal adviser, Sagit Afik, ruled late Wednesday night that a controversial roll-call vote against probing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s role in the Submarine Affair was legal.  
Netanyahu suffered a momentary blow on Wednesday, when the Knesset plenum voted 25 to 23 to initiate a parliamentary probe of his role in the scandal. Meretz faction head Tamar Zandberg, who initiated the vote, and other opposition MKs briefly celebrated the victory.

But Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin immediately canceled the vote, saying that it had been conducted improperly by his deputy, Joint List MK Mansour Abbas, and that several Likud MKs did not vote, because Coalition Chairman Miki Zohar had asked for a roll-call vote. Abbas later told Levin that he did not hear the request and agreed that the vote should have been canceled. Zohar admitted that he asked for the roll-call vote only because he failed to bring a majority of coalition MKs to vote.

Uproar then erupted in the plenum, with opposition MKs shouting “shame, shame” before walking out.

Zandberg called the cancellation of the vote “a stain on Israeli democracy.” She asked the Knesset’s legal department to review the video from all angles and determine whether the roll-call vote had been requested before voting began.

The roll-call vote was then held, and only Likud, Shas and United Torah Judaism MKs participated and the proposal to investigate Netanyahu was defeated 44 to zero.

The Movement for Quality Government and Meretz said they would petition the Supreme Court to reinstate the initial vote that Levin had canceled.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid said red lines were crossed in the Knesset in an effort to protect Netanyahu from an investigation, proving that the prime minister has something to hide.

“I’ve been a member of Knesset for eight years, and never has a vote been canceled after it has been held,” Lapid said. “I’ve spoken to the longest-serving members of this house; none of them remember something like this.”

He blamed Blue and White for not supporting the probe, saying he was very disappointed with its MKs.

“Netanyahu’s men fired on democracy from close range, and Blue and White ran away again,” Lapid said.

Earlier, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz announced that his faction’s MKs would vote against the parliamentary probe while he waits for a check of professionals in the Defense Ministry.

“The affair is grave, but I don’t want to participate in the opposition’s politics of votes,” he said.

Blue and White MKs were not present for the vote.

Earlier, a vote to probe conflicts of interests among judges was removed from the agenda because its sponsor, Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich, realized he had no majority.