Likud MKs spread thin as committees assigned

With 40 MKs serving as ministers and deputy-ministers, the remaining 80 lawmakers have been distributed across the Knesset's 16 committees as per the House Committee's list published on Tuesday. While some junior MKs in the Likud Party found themselves thinly spread, however, five Kadima legislators remained unassigned to any panel. The record-holder in the former category seemed to be MK Danny Danon, the World Likud chairman, who will serve on seven committees - including Foreign Affairs and Defense, Education, and Economic Affairs - chair the Children's Rights Committee and serve as deputy Knesset speaker and deputy coalition whip. Danon has already arranged for a hearing in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee regarding prosecution of Israeli officials in a Spanish court, and a hearing in the Economic Affairs Committee - scheduled for next week - about the management of Bank Hapoalim and its troubled relationship with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. Fischer is expected to be present at the hearing. In addition, Danon - an IDF orphan - heads the Knesset Forum on IDF Widows and Orphans. "I am naturally a very active person," said Danon, who added that he would "improve my physical fitness by running from committee to committee and meeting to meeting." Other coalition-chaired committees will be led on a rotational basis, in a further attempt to cope with the scarcity of coalition MKs. "The appointment of chairmanships for thirds and quarters of tenures is the continuation of the Likud's serious abuse against the Knesset, the degradation of the parliament, the serious assault on the Knesset's ability to act and to offer oversight of the government's work," complained MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima), who has been appointed to head the State Control Committee, which is always chaired by an opposition lawmaker. Meanwhile, five Kadima MKs have not yet been given committee positions. In addition to MK Tzipi Livni - who, as opposition chairwoman, is traditionally "exempt" from committee work - MKs Ze'ev Bielski, Yohanan Plessner, Shaul Mofaz and Majallie Whbee have yet to be placed. Slots reserved for Kadima members remain open in a number of the less-prestigious permanent committees, as well as in temporary committees. One of the most prestigious committees - the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee - is likely to present a challenge for the coalition. The committee is chaired by Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi, since no Labor MK from the coalition agreed to take the post. All of the non-"rebel" Labor MKs had already been assigned to ministerial positions before committee chairmanships were given, and rebel MK Ophir Paz-Pines turned down the position. Now, not only is the key committee chaired by a member of the opposition, the two Labor representatives on the committee are rebels - MKs Amir Peretz and Shelly Yacimovich - and are more likely than not to vote against the coalition on key issues.