What Will Become of the Knesset's Powerful Defense Committee?

It is still unclear who will take over the committee, but the decision will likely impact Kadima's weight in the Knesset and perhaps determine the future of the party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to reach an agreement Sunday with opposition leader and Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni  regarding who to appoint chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Livni Netanyahu- AP- Feb 22, 2009

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin had proposed a deal under which that Kadima appoint its own candidate to lead the committee, while Likud would assign a representative – most likely MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen - to head of the Economic Affairs Committee.

Rivlin also proposed the two committee heads would alternate, beginning January 2011.

This deal would have enabled Kadima to gain control over the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, but hinder it from using its position to keep Netanyahu from passing his bi-annual budget.

The Economic Affairs Committee is considered sensitive issue in the Knesset because it could hinder the reforms planned by Netanyahu. The Economic Affairs Committee has traditionally been under the control of the opposition.

After Netanyahu and Livni failed to reach an agreement on the issue Sunday, Rivlin said he would ask the committee on Monday to appoint an interim chairman.

Members of the Likud had been expected to object Rivlin's initial proposal and are inclined to try to appoint a Kadima member of its choice to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Sources from the Likud said they would support the candidacy of Kadima MK Shaul Mofaz – though creating such a rift between Livni and Mofaz could fare badly for the party.