Daily Israel Report

Likud and Kadima in Tug-of-War over Knesset Committees

After MK HaNegbi's suspension, Kadima wants to ditch Foreign Relations and Defense C'tee in favor of Finance. Likud says no.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 11/10/2010, 7:05 PM / Last Update: 11/10/2010, 7:34 PM

A tug-of-war has begun between the ruling Likud party and the largest opposition party, Kadima, over the stewardship of two important Knesset committees, following the suspension of MK Tzachi HaNegbi (Kadima), who headed the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Kadima wants one of its own to head the Finance Committee and have a Likud member replace HaNegbi at the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. Likud refuses and wants Kadima to name a successor for HaNegbi at the FA&D Committee.

The Kadima faction's chairwoman, Dalia Itzik, addressed a letter to Coalition Chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin Wednesday in which she asked for the chairmanship of the Finance Committee. She explained that the traditional arrangement in the Knesset is that an MK from the ruling party heads the FA&D Committee and an MK from the largest opposition party heads the Finance Committee.

This arrangement was suspended when the current government was formed after the 2009 elections, because MK HaNegbi was considered a good and experienced chairman of the FA&D Committee, and Likud agreed to leave him there when it took power. In exchange, Likud received the chairmanship of the Finance Committee. Now that HaNegbi is gone, Itzik explained, the rationale for that arrangement is gone and the parties should go back to the traditional arrangement.

Elkin: Tough luck
Coalition Chairman Elkin rejected Kadima's request. He said that the agreement between the parties was worked out by MK HaNegbi and himself, with the consent of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and of Opposition Head MK Tzipi Livni. The arrangement was to last for two-thirds of the 18th Knesset's term, he explained, and Kadima needs to find someone from its own ranks to replace HaNegbi until the two-thirds point in the term is reached.

Elkin asked Kadima to provide him with the name of HaNegbi's replacement by Monday.