Herzog Agrees Not to Use Hazan Scandal to Bring Down Government

Zionist Union to withhold one of its votes until Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein can deal with disgraced Likud MK.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
Oren Hazan at a party from time before he was a politician.
Oren Hazan at a party from time before he was a politician. Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Tuesday approved a vote-offsetting agreement with Likud for under-fire Knesset member Oren Hazan. Under the agreement, Herzog’s Zionist Union will offset Hazan’s absence from Knesset votes by withholding the vote of one of its own lawmakers.

The aim of the agreement is to ensure Knesset Speaker Edelstein can deal with the disgraced MK, without fear of his using his prime position as the 61st lawmaker in a narrow-majority coalition as leverage. Without the offsetting deal, Netanyahu’s government would effectively lose its majority.

A Channel 2 report Monday night claimed Hazan used hard drugs and coordinated escort services for clients at the casino he managed in Bulgaria before entering politics, sparking calls for his dismissal from the Knesset.

“This afternoon Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein approached me,” Herzog wrote on Facebook. “He, as I and many others, felt great embarrassment over the reports. He made it clear that he intended to suspend Knesset member Hazan from his official roles in the Knesset [as deputy Knesset speaker] and asked me personally in his role of being responsible for the respect for the Knesset of Israel to allow a sort of short ethical safety net, in order to fully carry out the clarification in the matter without enabling the claim of threats that could influence the process.

“Recognizing the need to preserve the reputation of the Knesset and after I considered the matter, I decided that there was justification to agree to Edelstein’s request, while making it clear that this agreement was granted for only a short and limited time. The prime minister was not mentioned and was not involved in any fashion in the process or request.

“We must ensure that the camp remains pure. An opposition must always do the right thing for the good of Israel. When it is an affair that stains the entire Knesset it is proper in my view to allow the clarification of the truth quickly and efficiently, without making it difficult through threats or cheap politics.”

Herzog’s agreement to the vote offset was sharply criticized by many of his party colleagues.