Arab MKs drop bid for Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee

Joint List trades seats on key security panel for more representation on Finance Committee

MK Ahmad Tibi  (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
MK Ahmad Tibi (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Members of the Joint (Arab) List decided to forgo a seat on the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee despite their party having become the third-largest faction in the 20th Knesset, an achievement that traditionally would win them representation on the influential panel.

The FADC is the parliamentary committee with the most influence on all matters relating to the military, security services and Israel’s defense policies.

The Joint List’s strong showing in the election entitled it to two seats on the FADC and two seats on the Knesset’s Financial Committee. MK Ahmad Tibi, who represented the Joint List in a meeting on the allocation of seats on the various Knesset committees, said Friday that the party wanted to give up its two FADC seats in favor of two more seats on the Finance Committee.

Likud or another major faction would need to sign off on the exchange. The party’s request for more representation on the Finance Committee is likely to be seen as a desire to address its constituents’ financial and housing difficulties.

Arab parties traditionally avoid asking for seats on the FADC, which weighs, among other issues, plans for IDF attacks against Palestinian targets during times of war.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) speaks during a session, on September 3, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense committee MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) speaks during a session, on September 3, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The committee in charge of allocating seats to all  other committees decides on the makeup of the FADC and the Finance Committee immediately following the election, so that the two groups can get to work even as the new government is being formed. The final lineup of the two committees is usually tweaked slightly once the new government is sworn in.

The  panel staffing the Knesset committees was composed of MKs Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), Eitan Cabel (Labor), Ahmed Tibi of the Joint List, Micky Levy (Yesh Atid), Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), Yaakov Margi (Shas) and Knesset Secretary Yardena Meller-Horowitz.

Elkin responded in the affirmative to Tibi’s request, saying he had no objection as long as the Joint List finds parties willing to switch committee seats with it.

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