Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein announced Sunday that he would nominate Hatnua MK Amram Mitzna for chairman of the powerful Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee if no nominee was agreed upon by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid.
The committee had been without a chairman since Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman, who previously headed the committee, re-assumed the position of foreign minister after being acquitted of fraud and breach of trust charges in early November.
Earlier Sunday, Edelstein said he would nominate Mitzna on his own accord if no decision was made by Netanyahu and Lapid by Monday, the Israel Hayom daily reported. According to Walla, the Knesset speaker later retracted his statements and offered to extend the nomination period by one week, with a confirmation vote taking place later in the week.
Edelstein reportedly discussed the nomination with Netanyahu and Lapid over the weekend, and informed the two party heads that he intended to garner support among additional Knesset faction leaders for Mitzna’s appointment.
The committee, which approves the military budget and tackles security and military issues, cannot meet without a chairman.
Netanyahu and Lapid had been at odds over the committee’s future chairman, with the prime minister pushing to nominate Likud MK Tzahi Hanegbi, while Lapid hoped to appoint fellow Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah.
Hanegbi, who had headed the prestigious Knesset committee in the past, is considered a close confidant of Netanyahu on nuclear and strategic issues and has publicly backed the prime minister’s strategic polices with regard to Iran’s developing nuclear program.
“I know Netanyahu. And nothing will prevent Netanyahu from doing what he believes is right,” he told The Times of Israel last month.
Lapid has refused to give up on Shelah’s nomination, despite the prime minister’s continued objections.
Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report.