No Arabs on gov't police oversight c'tee

Interior Committee decides that the meetings of the subcommittee will be closed-door and secret.

outpost evacuation 298 (photo credit: Jewish Community of Hebron [file])
outpost evacuation 298
(photo credit: Jewish Community of Hebron [file])
Under the shadow of Sunday's Knesset Interior Committee visit to Peki'in, and following demands from committee members to establish an independent probe of the incidents leading up to last week's violence, the Knesset Interior Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to establish a subcommittee that would provide direct oversight to the Public Security Ministry. The members of the Interior Committee voted unanimously in favor of committee chairman Ophir Paz-Pines's proposal to establish a subcommittee that will deal exclusively with public security. Committee members decided that the meetings of the subcommittee will be closed-door and secret - a format currently in place for the various subcommittees of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Paz-Pines will chair the new subcommittee, which will include MKs Effi Eitam (NRP-NU), Moshe Kahalon (Likud), Esterina Tartman (Israel Beiteinu), Yossi Beilin (Meretz) and Yohanan Pelsner (Kadima). In the Interior Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon, the members debated whether or not Arab MKs should be permitted to join the subcommittee. Paz-Pines said that he thought that the only criteria for determining participation should be the willingness and suitability to offer from their experiences - but in the end, the subcommittee was formed without Arab representation and with a slight right-of-center orientation. In the Interior Committee itself, three of 15 members are representative of Arab minority groups - but none of those three have a seat on the new subcommittee. And minority groups were not the only players left out as the new subcommittee came in to being. Public Security Ministry officials were blindsided by the subcommittee's creation, alleging that the Interior Committee notified the press before notifying the ministry that the new subcommittee will examine. "The current Knesset oversight of the works of public security forces is not sufficient," said Paz-Pines during the closed-door meeting to establish the subcommittee on Tuesday afternoon. "This subcommittee will improve the ability of the Knesset to supervise and to assist these bodies, and will improve the quality of the work and the level of trust between these executive bodies and the Knesset." The new committee will deal with questions relating to police, police intelligence, the Israel Prisons Service and "sensitive security issues". Committee members expressed hope that both Police Chief Insp.-Gen. David Cohen and IPS head Chief Warden Benny Kaniak would appear regularly before the subcommittee. The future guest lists are also expected to include senior officers of both organizations as well as representatives of the Shin Bet Security Agency and the IDF. In the near future, the committee will present its work plan for the coming year, including scheduled meetings and visits to pertinent facilities and sites.