National Union Wins State Control Committee Chair

Nationalist MK Uri Ariel has been tapped to head the Knesset State Control Committee; Labor and left wing opposition parties outraged

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Gabe Kahn,

MK Uri Ariel
MK Uri Ariel
Israel news photo: Flash 90

MK Uri Ariel (National Union) was appointed late Monday as chairman of the Knesset's State Control Committee by a vote of 10-2.

During the meeting MK Amir Peretz (Labor) opposed Ariel's appointment saying the Likud-led coalition was attempting to divide the opposition.

Amir simultaneously claimed that he was the one who should get the nomination on the grounds that Ariel "represents a small party that does not cooperate with the opposition."

The Labor party, now headed by leftist ideologue MK Shelly Yachimovitch, has assumed leadership of the opposition in the wake of Kadima joining the government.

MK Dov Henin (Hadash) also attacked Ariel's appointment to head the State Control Committee, saying "The coalition decided to appoint the representative for the opposition itself, rather than letting the opposition choose its representative."

"This is something serious and unbecoming in a democracy," Henin went on. "Speaking for most of the opposition parties – except the National Union – I hereby announce this cannot go unchecked and we will struggle against the dangerous precedent."

Coalition Chairman MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) rejected criticism of Ariel's appointment as "shabby and pitiful" maneuvering by the left.

"Labor voluntarily gave up the State Control Committee," Elkin said. "It cannot now demand it be returned, claiming that the chairmanship of the State Control Committee is of the utmost importance to them."

"We recommend that Labor read the Knesset Rules before making ridiculous complaints," he added.

Labor, under former party chairman Ehud Barak, was a member of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coaliton. However, many Labor lawmakers refused to vote with the coalition on divisive issues.

The resulting tensions led to a schism in the Labor ranks. Barak – who holds the powerful defense portfolio – formed the Independence party and remained in the coalition with five seats. Meanwhile, Labor departed for the opposition with ten seats.

Observers note Ariel, following Kadima's entry to the coalition, said the National Union would consider joining the Likud-run government "if the conditions are right" vis-a-vis government policy in Judea and Samaria.