Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee may split to give more focus to foreign affairs
House Committee to discuss whether the two issues should be separated so that Knesset members can devote as much time to debating foreign affairs as they do to security concerns.
Diplomacy and security have been the fodder for a single Knesset committee since the establishment of the state, but the House Committee will discuss this week whether the two issues should be separated so that Knesset members can devote as much time to debating foreign affairs as they do to security concerns.
"There needs to be equality in the Knesset's monitoring and handling of security and military matters on the one hand and foreign affairs on the other," said MK Einat Wilf (Atzmaut ), who is pushing for the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to be split into two.
"Israel faces many challenges today, and in many cases these are of a political rather than security nature," she said. "The Turkish flotilla is a good example of this. There is reason to establish a separate Knesset committee to deal with foreign affairs."
In May of last year, Israeli naval commandos killed nine passengers resisting the takeover of a Turkish ship attempting to breach the blockade of Gaza, prompting a fallout between Jerusalem and Ankara.
Under Wilf's proposal, which the House Committee will debate Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee would discuss only security matters when the next Knesset convenes.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has said he opposes adding another permanent committee, and Wilf is seeking a reshuffle that would have the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs discussing foreign and diaspora affairs. Immigration and absorption would come under the purview of the Interior and Environment Committee.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman supports the proposal, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak has reservations.
Over the years, the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee has come to focus almost exclusively on security issues.
Of its 13 subcommittees, 12 deal with the Israel Defense Forces and other security services, and most of the committee's briefings are provided by IDF officers or Defense Ministry officials. Foreign Ministry officials rarely appear before the committee, even when its members are discussing foreign affairs.
Though the committee hearings often deal with intelligence matters, its members generally don't discuss which policies Israel should adopt in response to the intelligence assessments.
Wilf began floating her idea several months ago, and has discussed the proposal with Barak, Lieberman and Rivlin, along with the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima ).