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Herzog Takes Coalition to Court Over Key Knesset Committee

Opposition leader files appeal in protest of delay in the appointment of a chairman to Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/27/2014, 5:44 AM

MK Yitzchak Herzog
MK Yitzchak Herzog
Flash 90

Opposition leader MK Yitzchak Herzog (Labor) on Wednesday filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, in protest against the delay in the appointment of a permanent chairman to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

The committee, considered to be the most important of all the Knesset committees, has been without a chairman since November, when former chairman, MK Avigdor Liberman, returned to his previous position as foreign minister after he was acquitted of criminal charges.

No permanent chairman has been appointed because Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid cannot agree on who he will be.

Netanyahu and Lapid have quarreled over the identity of Liberman’s replacement, with Netanyahu wishing to appoint Likud MK Tzahi Hanegbi to the position, while Lapid insists on appointing MK Ofer Shelah of his party.

In appealing to the Supreme Court, Herzog wrote, "As someone who strongly believes in democracy and in the Israeli Knesset, I see this as a sad step. Unfortunately, the current government and its absolute dysfunction forced us to go to the court on this issue.”

Herzog attacked Netanyahu who, he said, is unable to make decisions and deal with his ministers.

"I see in what's happening a blatant abandonment of the security of Israeli citizens,” he said. “If tomorrow, G-d forbid, we find ourselves under attack, we will be paralyzed,” warned Herzog.

"Mr. Prime Minister, are you no longer concerned about the Iranian threat? Are you not worried about the attacks on Israel?” he said.

Herzog’s appeal comes a day after sources revealed to Arutz Sheva that Netanyahu and Lapid had reached a deal, whereby Netanyahu supported the imposition of criminal sanctions against hareidi soldiers who evade military service, in exchange for the appointment of Hanegbi to head the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

According to the sources, the move allowed the criminal sanctions - a clause Yesh Atid insists must be included in the Equal Burden of Service Law - to pass in the Shaked Committee, and for Hanegbi to be placed in a government position strategically important for the Prime Minister.

The sources further added that under a rotation agreement that had already been reached, Shelah will also serve as head of the key committee, but only toward the end of the current Knesset term.