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MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) Photo: Gil Yohanan
MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

Foreign Affairs Committee chair spot strains coalition to breaking point

Coveted chairmanship of Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee still up for grabs, straining already tense coalition. Source claims coalition members loosing patience with Lapid, while Livni calls coalition 'unnatural'

Moran Azulay
Published: 12.18.13, 15:18 / Israel News

Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will go to Yesh Atid 's No. 2 man, but only as part of a larger rotation, a senior coalition source told Ynet Wednesday, hinting the issue was the least of the coalition's problems.

 

Ofer Shelah at an event in Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Ofer Shelah at an event in Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brenner)

 

MK "Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) will not be the first chairman of the committee," the source said, adding that there is growing anger at Finance Minister Yair Lapid for flooding the coalition with a slew of testing bills in a bid to gain leverage for Shelah's appointment.

 

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However, the source and others within the coalition claim that despite the massive pressure being levied by Yesh Atid, Shelah will not get the position – or at least not directly – with the current plan being a rotation agreement in which Shelah will take the second turn.

 

"It is unacceptable the Yesh Atid are trying to boss us around in such a way. There is a wild frenzy," said the source who refused to be named. "The price is that Shelah will the get the committee, but only in a year and a half after the rotation – not that anyone knows what will happen until then anyway."

 

During the last 24-hours there has been serious head butting among coalition leaders after Yesh Atid threatened to bring a bill calling for equal tax exemptions for same-sex couples to vote.

 

Lapid and Bennett (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Lapid and Bennett (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

 

"First Lapid hinted that there is a need for change in the coalition, then he makes an ultimatum regarding Shelah's appointment, criticizes the prime minister's new residence – even though it is clear that the current prime minister will not live there – and finally he refuses to give up on Adi Kol's bill" regarding equal tax benefits for same-sex couples.

 

"I think we are all just getting tired of this. There is no doubt that we are in a critical and decisive stage regarding the future and face of this coalition – including whether it will survive or not."

 

Justice Ministry Tzipi Livni also commented on coalition tensions, explaining that "this coalition is unnatural. It was born out of a pact between brothers (a reference to Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett's partnership) despite the fact the public did not want a coalition locked in with a double veto – one on peace in the form of settlement construction of far out outposts, and the other pertaining to same-sex bills like those Hatnua is promoting."

 

Livni further explained that in her opinion "the majority of Israelis want a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and liberal coalition that will put an end to the conflict with the Palestinians, and protects Jerusalem and Israel's international standing. I'm happy things are turning around, but it was obvious that this would happen."

 

Wednesday night, because of the battle for the leadership of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which has been parlayed for more than a month and a half since its previous chairperson – now-Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman – was acquitted of breach of trust charges and left the position, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced his intention to change Knesset protocol and allow the appointment on a temporary basis.

 

Yesh Atid announced that it would not object to such a move, however the fate of the committee chairmanship remains unclear.

 

 

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