Likud: We Won’t Accept Blue and White’s ‘Bully Pulpits’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Likud accused Blue and White of “parliamentary bullying” after the party established six temporary Knesset committees on Monday. “The formation of the committees in no way reflects the results of the vote or the makeup of the Knesset, and violates the norms that have been established in previous Knessets,” the party said in a statement.

In response, Blue and White said that the Likud and its right-wing bloc had left the party with no choice. MK Avi Nissenkorn said that “especially during these difficult times we need to have an operating Knesset, for the sake of Israelis and the health of our democracy. What we have done will allow the Knesset to begin working immediately.”

With the Likud and right-wing parties boycotting the opening session of the Knesset Monday, Blue and White, along with Yisrael Beytenu, Labor-Meretz and the Joint List, had a lock on the first step in organizing legislation – naming a chair to the Knesset Arrangements Committee, with 61 MKs voting for Nissenkorn. The newly empaneled committee then held votes for six Knesset committees, naming opposition MKs to head them.

The committees established were mostly interim committees that are not part of the usual Knesset committee lineup, as an emergency measure to deal with the coronavirus crisis. Heading a special committee to deal with coronavirus is MK Ofer Shelach (Blue and White); a special committee dealing with education during the crisis is headed by Meretz head Nitzan Horowitz; special committees on preventing crime in the Arab sector and dealing with labor and welfare issues during the crisis will be head by MKs from the Joint Arab List. The most important appointment was that of Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer to head the Knesset Finance Committee, replacing veteran Chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (UTJ).

Analysts told Yisrael Hayom that the unilateral moves by Blue and White had likely dealt a fatal blow to unity government negotiations that had been going on. Meanwhile, sources in Blue and White told Kan News that Israel was now likely closer to fourth elections than to a unity government. Although the Knesset has officially started its session, Benny Gantz has yet to form a government, and with at least four MKs in his party declaring that they will not vote for a government supported by the Joint Arab List, it’s unlikely he will be able to form one.

The Likud said it would not accept Blue and White’s “bullying. Blue and White, along with Yisrael Beytenu and the United Arab List have decided to steal the Knesset and erase two and a half million right-wing voters. The right-wing bloc will not allow this and will not participate in the undemocratic discussions and votes that ignored 58 MKs.”

In response, Blue and White said “we received an urgent request from the chairman of the Knesset Arrangements Committee, MK Nissenkorn, to establish emergency committees to deal with the current crisis, in order to enable MKs to serve Israelis.”