Ethics Committee blocked from convening, as Joint List MK refuses to join

Osama Saadi, tapped as an alternate member of panel, says he won’t be ‘a tool in political games between the coalition and opposition’

Joint List MK Osama Saadi at a Knesse committee meeting on July 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Joint List MK Osama Saadi at a Knesse committee meeting on July 5, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A third opposition lawmaker said Saturday that he will not join the Knesset Ethics Committee, preventing the panel from convening.

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy announced last week that he was unilaterally establishing the committee amid several opposition parties’ ongoing boycott of parliamentary forums, which they argue are balanced against them.

Levy tapped Likud MK Gila Gamliel and Shas MK Ya’akov Margi as the opposition lawmakers on the committee, and selected Joint List MK Osama Saadi as an alternate member who could fill in for them.

Both Gamliel and Margi resigned Thursday from the committee, which handles all matters relating to the ethical behavior of MKs and complaints against them. The committee must include an opposition MK to meet.

In a letter to Levy, Saadi said the Knesset speaker had previously asked him to be a full member of the panel and that he agreed to take on the role.

“I was surprised to receive an email that you are appointing me as an alternate member of the Knesset Ethics Committee,” he wrote. “I am not ready to be a tool in political games between the coalition and opposition.”

Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy seen during a plenary session in Jerusalem, July 26, 2021.(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Saadi said he thanked Levy but was rejecting the appointment.

“I hope another effort will be made to solve the crisis of the Knesset committees, which are a very important place for parliamentary work,” the Joint List MK said.

There was no response from Levy to Saadi’s move.

According to a Channel 13 news report, Levy was likely to seek to advance legislation that would allow the committee to meet without any opposition members. It was not clear if there was sufficient coalition support for such a measure.

Without any opposition lawmakers, the Knesset Ethics Committee will not be able to immediately take up a complaint lodged against Likud MK David Amsalem over a tirade he made against the coalition in which he threatened to lock up legal officials and discharge Supreme Court judges.

Likud MK David Amsalem speaks in the Knesset, September 2, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A police complaint has been filed against Amsalem over the remarks.

Some Likud MKs have expressed opposition to establishing the Ethics Committee, alleging it would single them out for examination.

The wrangling over the Ethics Committee came amid an ongoing dispute about the composition of Knesset panels that initially saw all opposition parties participating in a boycott due to what they alleged was their disproportionately low representation.

Last month, some parties dropped the boycott and began sending lawmakers to staff key panels, after the High Court of Justice refused to intervene in the parliamentary dispute and force the coalition to change the makeup of the committees. The court ruled that the matter did not justify judicial intervention.

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