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Gantz selects replacement to chair powerful Knesset defense panel

Defense minister chooses MK Eitan Ginzburg to take over as head of Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee after saying he’ll remove MK Zvi Hauser for defecting to another party

Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg attends a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on August 13, 2019. (Flash90)
Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg attends a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on August 13, 2019. (Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz plans to appoint MK Eitan Ginzburg chair of the powerful Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, media reports said Tuesday, a day after Gantz announced he was booting out current chair MK Zvi Hauser.

Gantz, who leads the Blue and White party, said he was removing Hauser and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel from their posts, after the two Derech Eretz lawmakers recently said they will join with a rebel Likud MK who is planning to form his own new party.

Ginzburg, who is already chair of the Knesset House Committee, is also a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Hendel’s firing as communications minister was effective immediately. Hauser’s removal as head of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will take a bit more time, as it demands a vote in the Knesset.

MK Zvi Hauser at a Knesset committee meeting on May 20, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

On Monday, Hauser and Hendel said they would resign their governmental positions — though not their Knesset seats — in the unlikely case that parliament does not disband in the coming days.

Hendel and Hauser were originally part of Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem faction within Blue and White. When the alliance broke up earlier this year, with Benny Gantz heading to the coalition and Ya’alon and Yair Lapid to the opposition, the two MKs broke away to form Derech Eretz and joined Gantz’s bloc in the government.

Last week, the two announced they plan to join MK Gideon Sa’ar’s party for the next elections, after Sa’ar split from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and said he would run in the next election to replace the premier. Sa’ar resigned from the Knesset after announcing his decision, saying it was only right he do so as he was elected for Likud. His is in the process of establishing his New Hope party.

Blue and White has been demanding that a state budget be passed for 2020 and 2021 together — as the coalition deal stipulates — in a bid to force Netanyahu to honor the premiership rotation clause. If Likud continues to resist those demands, elections will be triggered on December 23 at the latest and held three months later.

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