Shas blocks Braverman as chairman of Finance Committee

Says Labor MK planned 'jihad' against child payments.

MK Avishai Braverman (Labor), who has been waiting since his election as a freshman member of the Labor list for an economy-related appointment, was temporarily frustrated once again when the coalition failed to enlist a majority Tuesday to approve his nomination as Finance Committee chairman. Braverman's nomination as chairman of the powerful committee was meant to launch a round of new coalition appointments, but Shas MKs prevented Kadima from obtaining a majority to pass the appointment. Shas officials said they opposed the appointment because it was not coordinated with the party and because Braverman opposed raising child welfare payments. "We will never support appointing Braverman, because he sees it as his own personal jihad to prevent a raise in child welfare payments," a Shas official said. "Whoever thinks Shas is a spare tire will soon find they have no air left in their own tires." Shas MK David Azoulay added that he "respects Prof. Braverman and he is fitting for the post, but we have our priorities and we have to do everything possible to advance our interests and get the child welfare payments." Current Finance Committee chairman MK Stas Meseznikov (Israel Beiteinu) also put brakes on the appointment when he said his committee's schedule was too busy to allow for the vote. Meseznikov has been slated for replacement since his party pulled out of the coalition in January. In an attempt to bypass the reluctant committee chairman, the nomination was transferred to the House Committee. It would still go to the Finance Committee later, but coalition officials thought if it passed in the House Committee first, it may gain enough momentum to pass the Finance Committee. But the coalition failed to enlist enough support among House Committee members to approve Braverman's appointment, and rather then lose the vote, they delayed it once again - indefinitely. With Meseznikov departing Wednesday for the Caesarea Conference in Eilat, it seemed unlikely that a vote in his committee to replace him would occur earlier than next week. But Kadima and Shas officials negotiated late Tuesday in an effort to bring the appointment to the House Committee as early as Wednesday. Braverman's appointment is expected to be the first stage in a series of political moves by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The PM is soon expected to ask the Knesset to approve the appointments of Minister-without-Portfolio Ruhama Avraham (Kadima) as tourism minister and Kadima faction chairman Eli Aflalo as Negev and Galilee Development minister.