The Knesset Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee has not convened for the last six months due to an ongoing feud between the coalition and opposition over the composition of the Knesset Finance Committee.
This has generated criticism from the coalition that the Likud is guilty of a “dereliction of duty” toward the needs of immigrants and those seeking to make aliyah, whose concerns and problems are often addressed by the committee.
The Likud rejected the accusation, saying that the coalition must change its “anti-democratic” behavior in order to reconvene shuttered committees.
The committee is an important forum for parliamentary oversight of the aliyah and absorption process, as well as for the state’s policies and treatment of immigrants; how it treats those seeking to make aliyah; personal status issues for immigrants; emerging communities; and other related matters.
But a fight over the allocation of seats in the critical Knesset Finance Committee has meant that several committees controlled by the opposition, including the aliyah committee, have not convened for months.
The coalition has established for itself a majority of two in the Finance Committee in order to ease the passage of the state budget by its November 14 deadline.
But the Likud has angrily rejected that decision, insisting that by right, the coalition should only have a majority of one given the relative representation of the different parties in the Knesset.
In response, the opposition parties have not appointed chairmen or members for the committees they control, including the Aliyah, Science and Technology, and Status of Women committees, which have therefore not convened for months.
“The fact that there is no parliamentary oversight over immigration in Israel – when there are problems in South Africa for the Jewish community there, when antisemitism is raging around the world and people want to come on aliyah – is very problematic,” said Blue and White MK Alon Tal.
“The Likud should fight for increasing its representation on Knesset committees, and at the same time step up to the plate and accept the many opportunities they have to make the country a better place. They are claiming that they are not respected as the opposition party, and yet they are willing to neglect the responsibilities they were given,” Tal added.
Likud faction chairman and opposition coordinator MK Yariv Levin rejected Tal’s comments, insisting that what he described as the imbalanced Finance Committee allocation must be resolved first.
“I hope that a reasonable person such as MK Tal will be outraged by how the coalition is acting in an anti-democratic manner, by taking from the opposition parties the representation it deserves in the committees,” Levin said.
“If MK Tal will assist us in this struggle, we will be able together to ensure appropriate parliamentary oversight in all fields, including the important issues that the Aliyah, Absorption, and Diaspora Committee deals with.”