Tarred, feathered, roasted and grilled: Opposition slams Mofaz in Knesset (ISRAEL HAYOM) Gideon Allon and Mati Tuchfeld 05/10/12)
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Kadima Chairman Shaul Mofaz is sworn in as minister without portfolio
in tumultuous Knesset session • MK Benjamin Ben-Eliezer shouts "You
sold your soul to Satan" at Mofaz but later asks that his outburst be
stricken from the record.
The Knesset plenum on Wednesday approved the addition of Kadima party
Chairman Shaul Mofaz to the government by an overwhelming majority.
Mofaz is now deputy prime minister and minister without portfolio in
the Prime Minister´s Office.
A majority of 71 coalition MKs voted to approve Kadima´s entry into
the government, with 23 members of the opposition voting against the
motion. Three members of Kadima, angry over the surprise agreement
between Kadima and Likud, a backroom deal that sent shock waves
through the Israeli political system, were no-shows.
During the session, a commotion erupted and led to a break of almost
an hour before discussions were resumed. Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu asked Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to stop the discussion
after Netanyahu was asked to reveal if there were unwritten
conditions in the Kadima–Likud agreement that the government was
According to the law, the government must present all the terms of an
agreement to which it is a signatory 24 hours prior to the debate in
the Knesset concerning the agreement.
At first, Netanyahu replied, "We spoke about several issues, but
didn´t come to a conclusion about every single thing. Some matters
still remain open, and need to be resolved." In response to
Netanyahu´s statement, Knesset legal advisor, attorney Eyal Yinon,
pointed out that even things promised by the prime minister verbally
to Kadima must be disclosed.
During the debate, MKs Uri Ariel (National Union) and Isaac Herzog
(Labor) asked Netanyahu if there were any other agreements between
Kadima and Likud that were not presented to the Knesset, to which
Netanyahu replied, "I want to study what our obligations are as far
as disclosure goes. We did move forward, and conclude, some issues,
but they were dependent on other things that were not detailed.
That´s it. I propose we take a break for a few minutes."
After consulting with his advisors, Netanyahu returned and
said, "There were things we discussed involving possible future
scenarios that ended up not materializing into agreements. Anything
that becomes an agreement will be reported in accordance with the
law. Ministers may be appointed in the future, but we haven´t agreed
on that yet."
Before his approval, Mofaz underwent a grilling at the hands of the
opposition. The toughest questioning came from veteran MK Benjamin
(Fouad) Ben-Eliezer (Labor), who said, "I entered the Knesset in
1984, but I have never seen anything like this before. You have
caused the Israeli public to lose faith in the political system,
because today it is garbage. You preferred to sell your soul to
Satan, and Satan is the only one who gained from this."
Ben-Eliezer later explained that he didn´t mean to compare Netanyahu
with Satan. "I meant that the process was devilish," he said before
requesting that his statement be stricken from the record.
Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On commented on the events of the day in
the Knesset and said, "The stinking maneuver of the 1990s was tiny
compared to this one. This was a mega-stinking maneuver." Gal-On was
referring to a political move in 1990, in which current President
Shimon Peres and then Shas leader Aryeh Deri tried to topple the
government of then Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir by quitting the
national unity government and installing Peres as prime minister
instead. The incident was dubbed the "stinking maneuver" by Yitzhak
Rabin, who at the time was Peres´ Labor party rival.
Despite the somewhat euphoric atmosphere in Kadima in light of the
party joining the coalition, a slight rift seems to have appeared in
the party ranks as three members — Shlomo (Neguse) Molla, Nino
Abesadze and Robert Tiviaev — did not show up for the vote.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman congratulated Kadima on joining
the coalition but said, "The real tests will be the Tal Law and
evacuation of the residents of the Ulpana neighborhood. I hope we
will pass those tests."
The issues of the Tal Law, which effectively exempts ultra-Orthodox
men from army service, and the Ulpana neighborhood, part of a
settlement slated for evacuation, are two of the most contentious in
current Israeli politics.
On Wednesday, Lieberman rejected an alternative to the Tal Law
proposed by coalition leader Zeev Elkin, saying "Yisrael Beitenu is
interested in a more serious proposal."
The foreign minister lashed out at television personality-turned-
journalist Yair Lapid as well, saying, "He too must be living in a
science fiction world now. His chances of being elected president of
the U.S. are better than those of his party surviving until 2020."
In related news, Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich was sworn in on
Wednesday as the new opposition leader.
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