Ruling Coalition Boycotts Special Knesset Debate on Olmert and Corruption

Coalition chair MK Hasson: Opposition keeps on attacking Olmert, though he is politically irrelevant.

The ruling coalition Tuesday boycotted nearly entirely a special Knesset debate over the corruption scandals involving Prime Minister Olmert and on the legitimacy of the government.

Not a single cabinet minister was present for the first 15 minutes of the discussion, after which Minister for Religious Services Yitzhak Cohen of Shas was sent to the plenum as the minister on duty.

The coalition also chose not to respond at all to the two urgent measures which were presented. In all, only five members of the coalition were present in the hall.

Coalition chair MK Yoel Hasson said that the situation reflected a policy of ignoring the opposition bills. "This is irrelevant," Hasson said. "We are in favor of public debate, but the prime minister has announced that he is leaving office, the steps regarding him have been taken, and the opposition continues to attack him, despite the fact that he is no longer relevant from a political standpoint."

Hasson also noted that only a small number of those who sponsored the measures attended the session.