Cameras Ambush MKs

Recrimination between ministers and MKs in the wake of vote that embarrassed coalition MKs and could hurt them in elections.

Gil Ronen, | updated: 22:55

MK Katz with Minister Benny Begin, 23.2.11
MK Katz with Minister Benny Begin, 23.2.11
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Wednesday vote on a bill placing Judea and Samaria under full Israeli sovereignty caused recrimination and embarrassment within the Coalition, and an exchange of verbal fire between Coalition and Opposition.

The plenum was more than half-empty during the vote, with all of the Coalition MKs absent and only ministers in attendance. As a result, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the ministers wound up voting against the bill, along with the extreme left and Arab MKs from the Opposition. The scene was an embarrassing one for the ministers, who knew that their absence would be used to portray them as less-than-steadfast with regard to Israel's right to Judea and Samaria.
The National Union also warned the MKs that cameras had been placed at the exits from the plenum, and that MKs who left the plenum in order to avoid the vote would be videotaped. This video would presumably be used in the next pre-election campaign when the nation votes for the next Knesset.
Aware of the possible political damage to which they were opening themselves up, the Prime Minister and ministers - including Limor Livnat, Gideon Saar and Yuli Edelstein - took their frustration out on Coalition Whip MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud). "You abandoned us and left us to vote on our own," Livnat shouted at Elkin. "You have chutzpah, you brought me here although I am sick, while all of the Likud members went AWOL."
Elkin, for his part, took the microphone and lashed out at MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), who sponsored the bill and whom he saw as being behind the political trap. "You have done many things for the Land of Israel and we all thank you for them," Elkin addressed Katz, "but what you did today is damaging to the Land of Israel and to Judea and Samaria. Bringing about a situation in which the Israeli Knesset votes against placing Judea and Samaria under Israeli sovereignty is something we will regret for generations to come." 
Elkin approached MK Katz personally after the vote and continued to harangue him. An aide to MK Katz rebuked him: "You cannot tell a person who built 60,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria in one and a half years' time [in 1990-91, when Katz was Aide for Settlement under then-Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Sharon - ed.], the largest number since the days of King Herod, that he is demeaning the Land of Israel," the aide said.