Knesset c'tee likely to douse idea of gov’t fire probe

Despite lobbying from chairman Hasson, State Control C'tee expected to vote against forming investigative commission into Carmel blaze.

Firefighter carmel 311 ap (photo credit: Associated Press)
Firefighter carmel 311 ap
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The Knesset’s State Control Committee was expected to vote Tuesday on the establishment of a governmental investigative commission to probe the Carmel fire, but despite intense lobbying by committee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima), it seemed unlikely the initiative would pass.
Although Shas chairman and Interior Minister Eli Yishai has repeatedly said he supports such a probe, he has refused to impose his opinion on MK Amnon Cohen, Shas’s representative on the 11-member committee.
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Cohen has consistently supported the government’s position, which opposes the establishment of a probe beyond the State Comptroller’s Report on the Fire and Rescue Services that was released last week.
Without Cohen, and with opposition likely to come from five other coalition MKs – the Likud’s Ophir Akunis, Tzipi Hotovely and Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Habayit Hayehudi’s Uri Orbach and Israel Beiteinu’s Anastasia Michaeli – Hasson’s last hope was to convince Labor holdout MK Ghaleb Majadle to vote against the government.
In recent days, Majadle seemed to lean toward opposing the probe as well, but promised he would announce his final decision in advance of the vote.
After Kadima’s Knesset leadership decided to impose faction discipline on the party’s three committee members, one of them – MK Otniel Schneller – asked deputy faction chairman Yohanan Plesner to replace him with another MK during the vote. Schneller said he would participate in the meeting and present his opposition to a probe, but did not intend to vote against his faction’s directive.
“I opposed the establishment of similar probes in the past, which sometimes seemed to outnumber the events they were supposed to investigate, and which utilized great amounts of paper in order to find guilty parties but delayed the fixing of errors,” explained Schneller.
“That is my opinion in this instance as well.”
“I proposed that we allow the government to act within a limited period of three months to make decisions, including forming the legal basis for establishing a national firefighting authority, directing the necessary resources and determining a single ministry as responsible for the services,” continued Schneller. “At the end of that period, the State Control Committee should meet again and consider the government’s activities, and only then decide whether or not to open a probe.”