The candidacy of Hadash-Ta’al MK Ahmad Tibi to become a permanent Knesset deputy speaker led to a quarrel in the coalition on Tuesday, as National Security Minister MK Itamar Ben-Gvir refused, claiming Tibi supports terrorism.
There are currently five temporary deputy speakers. The deputies meet with Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana every Monday to negotiate over the agenda in the plenum for the week. Barring specific holidays or events, the plenum meets on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. The speakers are responsible for leading the plenum proceedings when the permanent speaker, in this case, Ohana, is absent or engaged in other matters.
Knesset protocol does not designate how many deputy speakers there should be, and therefore the position is part of the negotiations between the coalition and opposition during the early stages of the Knesset’s tenure. The sides could not agree on the matter, and the plenum on December 7 approved a suggestion that their role be designated as temporary.
The five temporary deputy speakers who were elected included three from the coalition – MKs Nissim Vaturi (Likud), Uriel Busso (Shas), Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) – and two from the opposition – MKs Yifat Shasha-Biton (National Unity) and Moshe Tur-Paz (Yesh Atid).
Haredi party leaders to Ben-Gvir: Choose your battles
The leaders of the coalition parties discussed the issue in their weekly meeting on Sunday, but could not agree after Ben-Gvir refused to pledge his support for Tibi.
According to a coalition source, both UTJ MK Moshe Gafni and Shas leader MK Arye Deri tried to convince the national security minister to “choose his battles,” and that Tibi had assisted the current coalition in bringing down the previous government.
However, according to the report, Ben-Gvir responded that “he [Tibi] is a supporter of terrorists, and was never with you,” adding that his appointment would be a “big mistake.”
Tibi and Ben-Gvir have had heated exchanges in the past, which included accusations against Tibi of supporting Palestinian terror, and accusations against Ben-Gvir that he believed in fascism.
The report was not confirmed by any of the coalition party leaders.