Hanegbi blocks inquiry discussion

Despite being backed by a majority of the committee, request was denied by Hanegbi.

Tensions between Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi and his committee members flared Tuesday as he was called an "Olmert pawn" for refusing a request to discuss the formation of an inquiry commission. A majority of the committee signed a request to discuss Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision not to establish a state commission of inquiry into the Lebanon war. Hanegbi denied the request, stating that it was too late to add the item to the agenda. Over the past several weeks, Hanegbi has repeatedly refused attempts by committee members to discuss failings of the war or question the military officers presented to the committee. "These actions are turning the committee into a puppet and not using the authority it has as an oversight committee to the military," said Ran Cohen (Meretz). Effi Eitam (National Union-National Religious Party) and Matan Vilna'i (Labor) said they were furious over Hanegbi's decision. "I spoke to Hanegbi this morning with a request to hold an urgent discussion on the issue and, unfortunately, Hanegbi was caught up in all sorts of procedural issues and announced that he would not allow the discussion," Vilna'i said. Eitam stated that "it is clear that all committee members, other than Kadima legislators, support a national commission of inquiry, and it is inappropriate for a committee chairman to abuse his authority and prevent this issue from being raised at the committee." Meanwhile, Arye Eldad (NU-NRP) decided to submit a private member's bill to establish a state commission of inquiry into the government's handling of the recent military operation in Lebanon. As opposed to the two inquiry committees announced by Olmert Monday night, a state commission would have the authority to dismiss top officials from their posts.