Netanyahu Appoints Ally to Head Key Knesset Committee Until New Government Is Formed

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and MK Miki Zohar at a Likud faction meeting.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and MK Miki Zohar at a Likud faction meeting.Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed on Sunday his close ally and the head of his own party’s caucus to chair the influential Knesset Arrangements Committee, which governs the legislature until a new government is formed.

Lawmaker Miki Zohar, Netanyahu’s choice, has promised to work together with all of the representatives in order “to loyally fulfill the choice of the voters,” he said in a statement after the appointment was announced.

Zohar received the job in accordance with the law, which says that the committee will be chaired by a member of the party whose representative was tasked with forming the government.

LISTEN: On trial and struggling to cobble a coalition, bankrupt Bibi is teetering on the brink

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President Reuven Rivlin decided to task Netanyahu with forming a new government, as he had received the most endorsements. Netanyahu now has 22 days left to try and form a coalition before May 4, although he may receive a two-week extension from the president once that time has elapsed.

Should Netanyahu fail, the president may task another lawmaker with forming a government or ask the Knesset to present a candidate that has the support of a majority of parliamentarians.

The Arrangements Committee is in charge of composing the various parliamentary committees and determining the Knesset's agenda until a coalition is formed. It is also in its power to promote legislation and approve certain regulations.

Zohar’s committee will include representatives from all parties according to their size, but the parties disagree as to how many seats each should get. Any decision on this matter could tip the scales between the anti-Netanyahu and pro-Netanyahu blocs in the committee, potentially giving one of then a decisive role in the new Knesset's first days.

Party representatives held an inconclusive meeting on this issue last week, with the main sticking point being the question of how many representatives will each of the parties that won six to nine seats receive in the committee.

There are 10 parties that got between six and nine out of 120 Knesset seats. Netanyahu's Likd won 30, Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, which opposes Netanyahu, has 17, and Islamist party United Arab List, which hasn't ruled out backing a Netanyahu-led coalition, has four.

If these 10 parties win only a single seat on the panel, then the pro-Netanyahu camp could wind up with a majority. However, if the parties win two seats, the anti-Netanyahu camp could potentially play a pivotal role in the committee’s decisions.

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