MK Berko Won't Head Knesset Intelligence Subcommittee Due to Veto by Fellow Likud Lawmaker

A lieutenant colonel in the reserves, Berko was meant to become the first woman to be appointed to the sensitive job.

Likud MK Anat Berko.
Olivier Fitoussi

Likud lawmaker Anat Berko won't be appointed as the chairwoman of the Knesset Subcommittee for Intelligence and Secret Services despite being told by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last weekend that she will get the post.

Likud sources told Haaretz that party MK Avi Dichter, who is set to become the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee next week, vetoed Berko's appointment and asked to receive the post himself.

Coalition chairman David Bitan, also of the Likud, said that Dichter turned to him and "showed that over the years the chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee also serves as the chairman of this subcommittee and that most of the work on foreign affairs and defense is carried out in the subcommittees."

"I understood that he's right. I turned to Anat Berko and told her that she couldn’t be appointed to the job. Instead I offered her to head the subcommittee on cyber affairs, but she turned it down."    

A lieutenant colonel in the reserves, Berko was meant to become the first woman to be appointed to the sensitive job. At the beginning of the week Berko wrote on Facebook that Netanyahu called her while she was in the United States and updated her on the expected appointment.

"Friday, a short while before Shabbat began, New York – a phone call from Prime Minister Netanyahu: 'Anat, I've decided to appoint you to the role of chairwoman of the Subcommittee for Intelligence and Secret Services – the most important and classified committee in the Knesset,'" she wrote.

"This would be the first time in the country's history that a woman will serve in this prestigious and sensitive role. This appointment constitutes a breakthrough and the breaking of the 'glass ceiling' for women – they can also deal with and oversee military, security and intelligence matters, all the more so if they bring with them experience and credit in the field," she wrote.

Berko, who holds a Ph.D. in criminology and who specializes in terrorism, was guaranteed a place on the Likud list for the current Knesset by Netanyahu as part of appointments that were within his authority. Sources close to Berko and in the Likud confirmed the details.

Dichter responded that he's awaiting his expected appointment to the role of chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee next week, "and that the whole issue of subcommittees will be dealt with after he enters office."