Left-wing Party's Lawmakers Barred From Knesset Talks on Gaza Border Operations

Discussions will be held in Knesset subcommittees Meretz is not a member of; MKs blast that theirs is the 'only part that voiced criticism of the government's policy regarding the demonstrations of Gaza residents'

MK Tamar Zandberg, seated left, and other members of the Israeli left-wing Meretz party vote to change the party's electoral system, January 7, 2018.
meged gozani

Meretz MKs will not be able to attend Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee discussions on the recent military operations on the Gaza border, even though it was Meretz MK Michal Rozin who requested an urgent discussion of ways to calm the situation.

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Committee chairman MK Avi Dichter (Likud) decided to hold the discussions on the violent clashes in classified subcommittees that don’t have any Meretz MKs as members.

The committee coordinator, Shmuel Latko, informed Rozin that the immediate debates on the issue will take place in the intelligence affairs subcommittee and the subcommittee on readiness and ongoing security issues, and added that in May there will be additional discussions in the subcommittees that deal with foreign relations and public diplomacy.

Meretz has members on a few Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee subcommittees, but not on the ones that will be holding the discussions. Meretz asked to attend the discussions on a one-time basis but was refused. This means that Meretz will be the only faction in the Knesset that will not be represented at these meetings, except for the Joint List which does not sit on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee at all.

Rozin claims Dichter made a decision to exclude Meretz because of the party’s criticism of the army’s operations on the border.

Palestinians at a funeral of Marwan Qudeih, who was wounded by Israeli fire, in Khan Yunis on April 9, 2018.
SAID KHATIB/AFP

“Meretz is the only party that has voiced clear criticism of the government’s policy regarding the demonstrations of Gaza residents at the fence and the lack of policy regarding Gaza in general,” said Rozin, “It seems that political considerations motivate the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in his decision-making, instead of relevant considerations of proper parliamentary oversight.”

Rozin added, “The fear of criticism seems to make him think that he can exclude the tens of thousands of citizens Meretz represents from the critical debate being conducted in the country these days.” Rozin called on Dichter to convene the entire committee to discuss the matter.

The subcommittees of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee regularly hold discussions on various topics, including on Gaza. To allow Meretz members to participate, Dichter could have either held the debate in full committee while declaring it a secret discussion or accepted their request to join the subcommittee meetings.

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee said in response: “Any discussion in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee belongs to the forum that is most appropriate to the topic in terms of content, with no connection to the identity of its members.”