Pensioners Party breakaway approved

House C'tee okays split after rebels disassociate from Gaydamak, but doesn't allow MKs to form party.

sharoni 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
sharoni 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Three times proved a charm for the breakaway faction of the Gil Pensioners Party on Monday, when the Knesset's House Committee approved the party's request for a split. It was the third hearing in as many weeks scheduled to vote on the issue. In the two previous meetings, the split was rejected in light of the alliance that the breakaway faction - now to be known as Justice for the Old - made with the Social Justice Party run by billionaire businessman Arkadi Gaydamak. But this time around, the faction requested recognition as an independent faction, without presenting any coalition agreement with the Social Justice Party. As a result, the Justice for the Old faction will now reap the consequences of constituting a Knesset oddity - the three members, MKs Moshe Sharoni, Sarah Marom-Shalev and Elhanan Glazer, are now members of a faction that has no party affiliated with it. This technicality means that the three will not be awarded any funding under the Party Finance Law, leaving them without funding for any of the expenses or manpower usually expected of a Knesset faction. During the hearing, MKs expressed their concern that the influence of Gaydamak's would-be sponsorship would still leave a stamp on the faction, including whether the faction could now - after gaining recognition - once again try to form a coalition with Social Justice. MK Ophir Paz-Pines asked if the new faction's name - specifically the use of the word "justice" - was not itself an evidence of continued ties with Gaydamak. But ultimately, the faction as an independent entity was unanimously approved by the large forum of MKs who had gathered for the third round of debate. "In the previous vote, I abstained because my understanding was that the House Committee usually must approve such splits, but I had to abstain because of what I thought was a problematic agreement," explained MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL). "Now there is no such reason." MK Yuli Edelstein described it as a "horror" that the House Committee was forced to have its third such meeting on the subject, in order to come to what he described as the "same result" as if a vote on the faction had been taken separately from the vote on a coalition with Gaydamak, as was suggested by committee chairman MK David Tal (Kadima) during the first meeting. Tal, for his part, expressed satisfaction once the vote had passed that the question had been put to rest. "We should say the blessing for being redeemed from a problematic situation," he quipped before closing the hearing. Meanwhile, employees of the new faction expressed confidence that they would not find themselves working on a volunteer basis, adding that the possibility existed to either merge with a current "shelved party" - an existing party that currently had no representation or to work to form a new party, a process likely to take more time.