Major Shake-up of Knesset Economic Committees Expected as a Result of Election

The chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee in the outgoing Knesset, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, was not even reelected as a Knesset member.

Last week's Knesset election results are expected to bring about a major change in the composition of the parliamentary committees that deal with economic issues, the Finance Committee and the Economic Affairs Committee.

The chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee in the outgoing Knesset, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, was not even reelected as a Knesset member. He placed 32nd on the joint electoral ticket of his Likud party and Yisrael Beiteinu.

The joint list won 31 seats, meaning Shama-Hacohen lost his Knesset seat by a whisker.

Although Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni was reelected, it is not certain that his United Torah Judaism faction will be a member of the next governing coalition. The chairmanship of the committee is expected to go to an MK from the coalition so Gafni may also lose his committee post.

"I woke up despite the fact that I apparently have not been reelected," Shama-Hacohen wrote in a post on his Facebook page on Wednesday, the day after the election, "and the sun even rose as usual." He acknowledged that "it's no great fun not to be elected," but he added that "it's really not horrible."

In the past, Shama-Hacohen had said he was considering running for mayor of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan.

The post of Economic Affairs Committee chairman is traditionally awarded to a Knesset member from the opposition, but in the outgoing Knesset, the ruling Likud party retained the post for Shama-Hacohen in return for the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which was given to the opposition Kadima faction. In the new Knesset, the helm of the Economic Affairs Committee is expected to revert to a member of the opposition, perhaps the Labor Party if it remains outside the government.

The State Control Committee, which deals with the activities of the State Comptroller, is also expected to be headed by an opposition legislator.

Assuming that Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu form the next government, the chairmanship of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is expected to go to Yisrael Beiteinu party chairman Avigdor Lieberman, who resigned as foreign minister in the outgoing government to face possible charges of breach of trust and fraud. He is expected to serve in the committee post until the end of legal proceedings in the case.

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves United Torah Judaism and the other ultra-Orthodox faction, Shas, out of the coalition, it is anticipated that the Finance Committee chairmanship will go to a Likud Knesset member. It is also possible, however, that United Torah Judaism would join the coalition but only after the passage of legislation drafting ultra-Orthodox conscripts a step the party strongly opposes.

Regardless of who heads the Finance Committee, there will be a major turnover in committee membership. Eight of its 16 members will not be returning to the new Knesset: Majali Wahabi (Hatnuah), Zion Pinyan (Likud), Ruhama Avraham Balila and Otniel Schneller (Kadima), Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beiteinu), Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi), Shachiv Shnaan (Atzmaut) and Raleb Majadele (Labor).

Another possible departure from the committee is Habayit Hayehudi's Uri Ariel, who it is thought would be appointed a cabinet minister if his party joins the government, although sources close to Netanyahu last week said the prime minister is considering leaving the party, headed by Naftali Bennett, outside the coalition.

Emil Salman